This too shall pass


Sunset, Back Bay, June 23, 2016

The end of June may be my favorite time of year.  The children are out of school but have not yet gone to camp/grandparents.  The days are achingly long.  Usually it’s warm but not blazing hot.  A couple of months of a slower pace ripple ahead of us, full of promise.  Even in the midst of these days that I love so much, I am aware of their almost-over-ness.  In the middle of summer’s highest fever pitch, I can sense a kernel of fall, an unavoidable awareness of what we’re turning towards.  I love these days the most of all, but they’re definitely threaded with loss.

I can find a farewell in anything, can’t I?

Yes.  I can.  This too shall pass.

Everything passes. 

This is the source of the seam of sorrow that runs through my entire life, but it’s also at the root of any resilience I have.  Both.  At the same time.

When Grace was a colicky infant and I was not sleeping and I was more depressed than any time before or since, it was the feeling that this was never going to end that terrified me the most. Of course it did.  It passed.  As did other difficult times in my life, personal, professional, medical, difficulties belonging to me or to those close to me.

Everything passes.

Of course this is true of the joys, too.  And my deep awareness of time’s ineluctable fleetingness is the dark hole around which my whole life circles, I know that now.  In the most joyful moments I wish desperately that things would not pass, and yet they always do.

Even in the moments I love most, there are unavoidable reminders of the way things pass.  These haunt me and bring me to tears.  I think of Frost’s line that “nothing gold can stay,” but then my mind also pinwheels to Lao Tzu’s, about how “muddy water let stand will clear.”

It strikes me that one of the tasks of our lives is to accept the drumbeat passage of time.  I originally wrote that we have to lean into it, but that, I suspect, will be impossible for me.  All the days of my life I expect to feel this faint shadow of loss, this specter of all that’s over even as I love the moment I’m in.  That’s just who I am.  That balloon floats above me, sometimes occluding the sun.  But I also remember that it’s precisely this inevitable passage that makes the difficult stuff pass, too, and that this too shall pass is a comment mostly rendered in hard times.  It’s relevant there, too.

The mud will clear.  The gold will dim.  It is comforting and terrifying, this truth, both.

22 thoughts on “This too shall pass”

  1. “The mud will clear. The gold will dim.” The perfect way to summarize.

    I just finished Louise Erdrich’s Round House (which I adored), and it is this line, which reminds me of what you just wrote, that will stay with me: “Now that I knew fear, I also knew it was not permanent. As powerful as it was, its grip on me would loosen. It would pass”

  2. Oh yes, this is a mantra in my life as well. I remember being overwhelmed so often with my babies – I think that is when I first began to try to believe that the difficult would not stay forever. I’m writing this from my daughters apartment, feeling particularly old and feeling the weight of time on my shoulders. It evolves, and I’m trying to move in rhythm with it- but some days that feels particularly hard.

  3. Lovely, Lindsey. It’s a saying I’m quick to remind myself in hard times but need to remember more often during the good times, too – to put an even greater value on them.

    I hear you on loving the end of June, too. We just took the first full week of school off, and the time had a sort of magic to it – on the cusp of the hot, hazy days of summer but not yet tired by them. I will have to remember the sweetness of those days next year when we’re grinding through the end of school. Happy start to summer!

  4. Wow Lindsey. This is such a beautiful piece of writing. Every sentence and word!!!

    Every time you write about time, I am struck that you are so clear about the uncertainty that is the bedrock of our existence. You ARE leaning into it. This is such a brave way to live – to face the darkness and love the light anyway.


  5. Great lines to pull out for this post . . . love it. “I think of Frost’s line that “nothing gold can stay,” but then my mind also pinwheels to Lao Tzu’s, about how “muddy water let stand will clear.”

  6. Lindsey, I sometimes think we share the same heart — and that you are the only other person on the planet who thinks about impermanence as relentlessly as I do. Sometimes I wish I could take a break from my own awareness of time’s fleetingness. So this post, well, it reminds me I’m not alone. And how much I love your writing. Stunning!

  7. Oh, that’s such a great quote. Somehow I did not catch that when I read The Round House, which I loved – it really gutted me!

  8. These are basically the nicest things ever to hear. THANK YOU. I don’t feel brave or clear at all, actually, so I’m grateful to know that you see those things! xox

  9. Thank you. From you, these kind words mean especially much. And yes. I think the same sometimes about our twin hearts. xox

  10. A wonderful piece, thank you.

    I can identify so much with this. I talk frequently to my husband about how this painful duality affects me. I should let him read this, it may comfort him that I am not alone.

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