There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
-Leonard Cohen “Anthem”
I used to believe that the universe was a random place. Everything that happened to us was simply, well, random. If I ran into you at the store, it was only a coincidence, not something that was “supposed” to happen or part of a preordained master plan with the two of us merely bit players on a much broader stage.
I don’t think I believe that any more.
Certainly, I believe there are many random parts of life. I don’t believe in some gigantic playbook that dictates when and how I will go about my day:
Tuesday, January 24, Becky Sherrick Harks will have Cheerios for breakfast at 9:45 AM and she will remark that they smell like pee. Delicious pee!
but I simply do not believe that what happens to us – the connections we make, the experiences we have – I cannot believe that they are entirely random. Maybe I’ve had too many weird, fucked-up experiences in my life. Maybe my brain is trying to find patterns where there are none. Maybe I’m just grasping at something to make it all more meaningful, I don’t know. Frankly, my Pranksters, I don’t really care.
This is the way I started 2010:
I approach 2010 full of renewed hope for the future, because no matter how full of the darkness I feel, I can feel the light on my face and I know it’s all around me. Soon it will be within me.
I am hopeful.
I have hope.
Happy New Year.
Days after I wrote this, I randomly found the famous tattoo artist through a referral on The Twitter who started my phoenix tattoo. She’d had a cancellation in her booked-months-out schedule and could fit me in right away.
Months later, when I went back for more work on my phoenix tattoo, I’d find out that she had just been diagnosed with an encephalocele. Like my daughter. I do not need to tell you that the odds of this are cataclysmically tiny that I’d find another with precisely what Amelia was born with.
Starting with that phoenix tattoo, I vowed that this would be the year that I Brought Aunt Becky Back and I have.
The process, however, has been excruciating. It’s incredibly difficult to take a look at the life you’ve deliberately crafted for yourself and realize how fucking miserable you are. It’s brutal to have to mourn everything you’ve swept under the rug when you were all EYE OF THE MOTHERFUCKING TIGER, AUNT BECKY. Especially when you feel you have no ally with whom to share it with. After all, there are people with no legs in the world. How can you possibly hate your life WHEN THERE ARE PEOPLE WITH NO LEGS?
There were days when all I could do was curl up on the couch and weep. My heart broke over and over again. The darkness obliterated the light and it was all I could do to make it from sun-up to sundown again. It wasn’t the kind of darkness that a pill can help. It’s the kind of darkness that you simply must slog through.
Eventually, though, there were entire hours that the darkness would just…leave.
Those hours melted into days and soon, the darkness only tinged the periphery. The rest of my world was bathed in the most wonderful rich, vibrant colors.
It was like I had begun to wake up after a long sleep. I felt like myself again for the first time in a very, very long time.
When I saw that Leonard Cohen was playing in Vegas, my jaw dropped ungracefully open. Kismet.
Sometimes, when I was adrift in the darkness, it was his words that kept me going. Whether or not you care for his music, his words are beautiful. And words – all words – are more true a love than anything I’ve ever known. Letters strung together into words elegantly arranged into sentences that flow into paragraphs can make my heart soar; make me weep, and give me hope. Words can cut into the darkness.
I found myself alone in the theater, watching rapt as Leonard Cohen sang and the tears inelegantly rolled down my cheeks. I’m certain that had anyone noticed, I’d have been locked away at the hospital for such a vulgar display of emotion, but I simply didn’t care.
Listening to him in that dark auditorium was like neatly wrapping up the year in cheesy wrapping paper, like vindicating my sorrow and sadness and allowing me to finally release it. It felt like the end of an era. It felt like a new beginning.
I’ll never escape the darkness entirely, I know that. It’s part of who I am and it’s what drives me. You cannot go through hell without bringing a little darkness back.
But in that light, in those un-random connections, I will find redemption.
I will find me.