The pebbles in my pocket
I read an interview today with Elizabeth Strout, the author of Olive Kitteridge. She said many inspiring things, but the part that has stayed with me is about a poor boy in her school growing up who was insulted by the teacher because of his poverty. The boy's neck turned red after the unkind words and all I have thought about all day is the boy, now man, and who he now was. Did he find happiness? Is he having a good life?
See, I've always felt too much. I hear a sad story, I see something hurtful happen, I hear about something tragic and I put them in my pocket and take them home with me.
Like pebbles, I carry these stories around. A few of my own, many from the people in my life, hundreds and thousands from strangers.
I wonder if maybe that is where all these faces are coming from. My pockets needing room so that I can move freer. Make space for more stories.
A recent comment here on my blog wrote of my melancholy voice. I laughed when I read it. All of my unhappiness in my life was in trying to be a happy person. I read the books and listened to the podcasts and tried on all the clothes. But that's not who I am. And all that struggle to fit myself into a life that wasn't my own just created more stress.
I am quite melancholy. I am also often happy. And wow can I feel beauty. Sometimes I think it's what makes me so alive; Melancholia can be so powerfully moving. I listen to the wind, chase birds to watch them fly. A sunset can move me to tears and all I want to do is create and create and create.
I wish I could tell all the strangers that I never met, who were hurt or scared or felt loss, that their stories have sat at my side in my pocket for years and that now I am putting them into paint to turn them into something beautiful.