I have written before about my absolute frustration, my maddening disbelief, at people who do not allow lows. I am currently reading Hammerklavier, a novel from Yasmina Reza. It is a somber but refreshing book about death, in all its frightening and inglorious truth. The transition into indifference, the loss of energy, passion, ability. The slow transition away from the world, before our very sad eyes, the withdrawal.
But, the author points out, how selfish it is of us to pity! And this is why I love this book. The author acknowledges and embraces that continuing as they were, as we want them to be, how does that prepare them for death? How does that acknowledge their reality of being overlooked, devalued, forgotten? They have every damn right to withdraw, change, feel what may be their misery or may even be their comfort, their Nature. Who are we to know better how they should behave, feel, while seeing from our perches of youth and ability and prospects of becoming?
The French are so Naturally talented at embracing, beautifying, all human emotions, including the lows. One summer in Paris, I pulled up en Vélibre to a café one hot afternoon and had a glass of red wine en terrasse. There was another lone woman there, also drinking wine, white wine. She was sobbing quietly. The waiter made nothing of it, served her another glass when she ordered it. I asked her if she was okay. Matter-of-factly, like I had asked her for the time and she was simply telling it to me, she said: « Yes. Sometimes we are sad, that is all. »
What a perfect answer. She wasn’t seeking attention, she wasn’t pretending to be happy, she wasn’t making any effort to hide her emotion, she was just being. How healthy, how beautiful.
The lows are allowed and should not be dismissed, ignored, or undermined. Yasmina Reza illuminates this wonderful and merciful truth in even something so somber as death. Dive into your emotion until your legs are weary from kicking. Swim to shore.