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Hyperion July 30, 2001

#52 The Joy, and the Sorrow

For every piece of happiness, there’s also a piece of unhappiness. If you haven’t told both sides, you haven’t told the whole story.

-Arthur Brooks

A single moment of true joy is more powerful than a lifetime of sorrow.

-Mary Beth Peil

Joy is getting a puppy on your birthday, all warm and squirmy and happy to see you, and belonging to you, just you, and nobody else. Sorrow is having to take that dog later to the animal shelter, because you did not take care of it right, or maybe there never was any room for a dog at the house. The reason did not matter much when you had to tell the dog goodbye.

Joy is getting to fly to your sister’s high school graduation, so proud that she passed with flying colors, and is going to a great college. Sorrow is staying up so late, picking up people from the airport, and being so tired, that you oversleep and miss the entire ceremony that you flew there for, and then have to face her, with nothing but the pathetic truth, that just doesn’t seem good enough.

Joy is finally getting the girl of your dreams (at least your fifteen-year old dreams) to go out with you. You hold hands with her at church and school, proud as a peacock that she is yours. You talk on the phone and life is wonderful. Sorrow is to find out a week later that she only went out with you because your so-called best friend asked her to, because he felt sorry for you, and to find out she never liked you, but liked him, and hoped by doing him this favor he would like her, and you have to watch them every day at school, and there is nothing you can do about it.

Joy is finally, after most of your life apart, getting to meet and to know your grandfather, to find out how funny and generous, and wise he is, how he listens to you, and how everything seems more magical when he is around. Sorrow is having him moved to your town, but only because he has a brain tumor, and you have to watch as he slowly deteriorates, so he can’t speak to you, and then can’t recognize you, and then he’s gone, and you have to hear about it in church with everyone else, with no time to prepare, because there had been no time to find you, and there you are with all those people looking at you, and all you want is your grandfather back.

Sorrow is not getting to go to the college of your dreams, which you had planned on as long as you can remember. Instead, you are forced to go to a small school you have never heard of, and the dream seems dashed beyond repair. Joy is meeting a group of friends, an outstanding group of people that share with you and care about you and will be there the rest of your life for you to count on them, and you would have never known they were there if not for unexpectedly coming to where they were.

Sorrow is seeing your two friends, the people you work with every single day and hang out with at night, suddenly have less time for you as they start to like each other, and spend most of their free time with each other, and not with you, and when you are there you feel unwanted and shut out. Joy is seeing their blossoming romance turn into a marriage, which makes them both very happy, and realizing it was you that had a large part in bringing them together, it was you that went back and forth whispering “She likes you!” and “Ask him out!” and finally you did get them together, and you get over the jealousy, because you see how much better their lives are, and you helped make it that way.

Sorrow is being pulled away from your life, your senior year in high school, to move clear across the country, to a place that is unfamiliar and people you don’t know. You miss home, where suddenly the shortcomings that had you wanting so desperately to leave do not seem so bad. Joy is finally being close to your relatives for the first time in your life, and getting to see them more than once every three years, and getting to spend Thanksgivings and Christmases together, and other times that don’t even have to be special, but just because you want to be near them, and getting to know your relatives, and find out what good people they are and what interests they have, so they are more than just occasional photographs, but they are real people to you, because you know them.

Sorrow is having girl after girl not work out, some because you two were too different, and some who just never liked you that way, which you never seemed to find out until too late, and some you never did figure out the reason, but you know that each time it hurts, each time it seems a piece of you is torn away, and you wonder what is wrong with you, and why can’t you find someone? Joy is maturing, and going back and healing wounds with those people, and in many cases becoming friends, good friends sometimes, so that in some cases you talk more now than you ever did during your time together, and to know that maybe Harry and Sally weren’t right, and men and women can be friends, and knowing that when you do meet the right girl you will have learned how to talk to her, how to listen to her, and a million other rules you learned the hard way through trial and much error, so that the chances of it working are so much greater than if you’d flung headlong into marriage when you were young and stupid, or at least stupider.

And maybe for every piece of happiness, there is a piece of unhappiness, but maybe the reverse is true too, if you just learn to look for it. And that makes it all worthwhile.

July 30, 2001


VerconSystems said...

Perfect. I personally do enjoy Sorrow from time to time.. I know I’m weird.

lost goddess said...

Were truer words ever spoken?

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