“I believe in a life of celebration. I believe that the world we wake up to every day is filled to the brim with deep, aching love, and also with hatred and sadness. And I know which one of those I want to win in the end. I want to celebrate in the face of despair, dance when all we see on the horizon is doom. I know that Death knocks at our doors and comes far too early for far too many of us, but when he comes for me, I want to be full-tilt, wide-open, caught in the very act of life. I think that’s what we’re here for, not for a passive, peaceful life, but to stand up in the face of all that lacks peace and demand more” – Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines
Friday 24th June was National Cream Day. Admittedly it was perhaps somewhat overshadowed by the big political news of the day. Down-hearted and dismayed, we were rather in need a perking up. So when a hamper from Rodda’s arrived on the doorstep, we decided that (although it was perhaps somewhat ironic to partake in such a British tradition, whilst still mourning the loss of the EU) it really was probably best we drown our post-referendum sorrows in a hearty cream tea picnic. Supping on scones, whilst talking political reform, Cornish culture and national identities, all the while.
Right now there’s rain on my window. Candles are lit and I’m dressed like it’s December. June’s been a wet month. Grey and grizzly in more ways than one. Sometimes I wander around the house wrapped in blankets, clutching a mug in one hand and a novel I should have finished months ago in the other; cursing the gloomy skies for my house-bound summer, whilst deep-down finding it utterly glorious. This is partly because I am the kind of person who could live on their bed for the best part of their life if provided with a steady stream of literature, snacks and cat-friends. But this is also partly (really) because if there’s one thing I’ve learnt over and over again, in these past few years, it’s that sorrow and joy and not so independent from one another.
In almost all of life’s moments there is both something bitter, broken, sombre and also something beautiful, sacred and sublime. In each celebration, step forward or simple sunny day I find slithers of lament for things that will not be; a subtle grief for all my soul longs for and all that life lacks. Equally, I find in moments of mourning and heartbreak that there is beauty and wonder and hope. And now more and more I’m choosing to intentionally recognise and hold onto these subtleties; to cherish the nuance in these moments of both sweetness and sorrow. Like photographic memories, as I reflect back on each landmark or loss, I find added depth, understanding and appreciation. I find my life richer and fuller and far more exquisite because I saw the stars amidst the darkness.
“Around our house, all the leaves are falling and there’s no reason that they have to turn electric bright red before they fall, but they do, and I want to live like that. I want to say, “What can I do today that brings more beauty, more energy, more hope?” […] “What can I do today that reminds you how good this life is?”
In our current weary climate of fear and cynicism, it feels kind of radical to choose joy. To believe that life is at its core, good. To go into each day, purposefully living in a spirit of goodness and merriment. To love life like this feels somewhat like a gentle revolution. I am one small woman, who lives in the middle of nowhere (who will never be Prime Minister) but in the face of all that could make me weep, I choose to laugh hard, to sing loudly in the car and to feed the birds. I choose to be absurdly grateful for the colour of the sky right now and the taste of buttery toast in the mornings. I choose to dance whilst I brush my teeth and retweet your message of redemption and hope. I choose to believe life is that earthy-gutsy-know-it-deep-down-in-your-soul-kinda-good; that it is remarkable and precious and worth believing in. And I choose to live life accordingly.
So last Friday, we sat in the soft light of the slowly setting sun. Two Junebugs eager for the warm glow of golden hour. We let the juice of fresh summer berries run down our chins and wondered if we could coax the badgers up from their sets with the promise of scones – whilst debating whether they’d prefer a pear? Once full to the brim, we lay back in the slightly damp long grass, watching the clouds roll on over us. Birdsong filling the sky. And in that quietness sat that sense of shock; that silent sadness that things were not like they were yesterday. But so much sweetness, joy, hope and gratitude lay in that field too.