I found out that someone to whom I have only written letters through work but have never seen even once or spoken to on the telephone has liver cancer and will die shortly. He is ninety-six years old, so death really is not the craziest thing that could happen to him at this point, and I would not know who he was without his file, a confirmed street address, and the photograph that will accompany his obituary, and yet I feel like weeping.
My fiancé at the time, Phil, took me to see them play, and just before intermission, John McDermott sang an a cappella version of "Danny Boy" that rent my heart into a thousand wilted pieces. To this day, I do not know why I had such a reaction to his clear tenor as it resonated up to my second balcony, front row seat, and I still do not know the words to that song or the history behind it, but once he hit the second or third line of that first verse, hot tears were already coursing down my cheeks. I was so taken with the experience of being so solely focused on and overwhelmed by the beauty of the moment, that I could not stop myself, even when a woman two seats down passed tissues to Phil in the dark.
That night, I was filled with grief, longing, joy, and hope so profound that I never found words for it. Now, after having had episodes like this since, although of a lesser degree, I am grateful for these experiences. I am often too far down into the niggly bits of this and that which intrude on higher life: I am hungry, I am tired, I have to do laundry, I have to go to work, I am cooking: these constitute the veil that obscures our view of the greater of which we are part.
So, for no good reason, as is usual with this sort of thing, I was moved in such a way by the present dying of an old man I have never met. It suddenly made life shine like dragon's gold in the storybooks where children stumble quite accidentally into a gorgeous lair alight with rare riches. If you are aware of the Palinode's and my year of my cervical cancer/hysterectomy surgery/mental instability and his back pain/upcoming back surgery, you would know that this is an amazing feat to affect.
Before you hurt yourself with all that eyerolling you are doing in the face of my cheeseball romanticism, I will have you know that, like anything else in this life, it was fleeting. I just started eating a yogurt that I was fully expecting to be strawberry, and instead I had a mouthful of yellow, fake-flavoured peach. The woman at the lunch counter gave me the wrong kind. I hate peach-flavoured food. It tastes like cheap, small-town-grandmas perfumes smell in church on Sundays. Ew.
See? I'm all back to normal now. The weeping has stopped. As you were.
Moral Of The Story: On the verge of spiritual awareness? Eat something you hate. It will kill your ecstatic enlightenment every time.