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On the Things that Hold

As long as I have words, I will be ok.

This is a line I tell myself whenever I feel on the brink of being not ok, or whenever I am beyond the brink and in the throes of not ok-ness.

As long as I have words. As long as I have words.

For me, words are one of the things that hold me together.

There are others. And they are simple. Simple, easy, everyday things. That hold.

A warm cup of tea in the morning with just the right amount of milk. A mid-afternoon walk in the woods. A deep, slow breath.

We are humans and we need to be held.

Many of us were held, long ago, for hours upon hours and days upon days. Nestled against chest as our mother or father or other beloved being breathed in our scent.

Many of us weren’t. Many of us learned early on—too early on—that in order to survive, we would have to hold ourselves.

Hold ourselves up. Hold ourselves together.

Up and together.

Up and together.

God, this is hard. Especially when life is hard.

And I have come to understand that even though life is many wonderful things, it is almost always hard, too. The hard rubs up against the edge of the easy, tugging on its tender thread. Undoing it.

Undoing us.

Maybe we fall on our knees or maybe we just slip quietly into bed. But we are not “up.” And we are definitely not “together.”

So we go back—I go back—to the things that hold. The simple, easy, everyday things that hold my heart up, that hold my heart together.

A soft pillow. A warm pair of socks. A beeswax candle, burning bright in a forgotten corner.

These things that I take for granted, most days, become the things that I can reach for, that I can touch, that I can rely on, that I can wrap myself up in, when I need to be wrapped up in something other than my own arms.

There are the arms of others, too. Family. Friends. People who know me and see me and want to hold me. Up and together.

And that is one of the greatest gifts of being a human on Earth. The fact that we are living amongst other humans on Earth, some of whom we have chosen, some of whom have chosen us, as friends. As family.

But, we will be alone, at times. Alone, in the deepest part of the tunnel, with nothing to follow but the smallest pinprick of light, barely visible, at the other end.

And in these moments of fumbling—through the tunnel, through the ache, through the words-that-tried-to-break-us, through the loss, through the pain, through the fear of what’s to come—it is nice, to remember that in the forgotten corner, there is that beeswax candle.

It is nice, to remember that in the kitchen cupboard there is that box of tea. It is nice, to remember that in the bedroom drawer there is that pair of socks. It is nice, to remember that in the beating heart, there is that sea of words.

The things that hold us together are the quiet things that exist in the background of our lives. The things that bring a bit of comfort. A bit of joy. A sense of rhythm to our days. A feeling of peace—though it may be fleeting—to our minds.

We complicate things, in this life. Especially now, during this Christmas season of buying and buying and buying some more, we complicate things.

We think that the big gift will bring the most happiness, the most cheer. And it may, for a moment. But as the festivities give way to the long, cold months of January-February-March, the big gift will gather dust in the basement, while the candle in the corner will continue to give us light.

The tea will continue to give us comfort.

The socks will continue to give us warmth.

The words will continue to give us healing.

The things that hold will continue to hold us, cradle us, rock us, soothe us, in their easy, soft, uncomplicated ways, while we continue to make our way through another year of being imperfectly human, another year of feeling great joy and great pain, another year of getting lost and found and lost in the tunnel, another year of wondering, “can I do this human thing?” and doing it—tenderly, messily, courageously—anyway.

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