Being alive isn’t as easy as it looks. A lot of work goes into each step, each breath, every single heartbeat, and just like in theatre, that behind-the-scenes work is often the hardest. You wouldn’t think your cells would be influenced by feelings or emotions, but they are. At least they feel like it. When you’re in love everything is easier. Your ribs become skylights, your heart a dance floor, every muscle a colored streamer, let’s celebrate. When you are in love, and especially when you are loved, you can take on the world, you can fight a leopard or hold back a tsunami and win if that’s what it takes.
But when you’re sad? Things get much, much harder. Every inch of you gets pulled down slowly and steadily to the ground. The ground will eventually reclaim you. You will no longer be able to reach. Even the trees will look darker. When you’re sad your lungs need to fight harder for more air, your toes cramp, your knees ache with that sometimes-arthritis you might have when it’s damp, your right elbow remembers the time it got strained in high school basketball. Every scar resurfaces, each bruise takes longer to heal.
So when you’re both in love and sad, everything gets more complex. Shifting geometric shapes lie behind your eyelids. You can no longer determine right from wrong or reality from truth. You wait. For hours. Each hour is longer. In previous decades you might have waited by the phone or the mailbox. These days you watch your cellphone screen or refresh your Facebook page, chewing on nails you no longer have. And this is how things break down, a hierarchy of importance: first them, then you, then water, then sky.
Eventually you will return to your own body. Eventually either the love or the sadness will win, and you never know which one will win until it does. This is the risk you take by living. In the end, it does not matter who thinks you are beautiful or whether or not you can dance well or whether, when you place your hand over his heart, you hear your own heart through your palm instead. In the end, all that matters is the precise ratio of water to sodium that it takes to keep you alive, the stretch and pull of your basement membrane, the circular morning.