JoAnn Gometz

Writing | Editing | Content Strategy

Smile for the Living

It's snowing, so it must be Tuesday. That's the pattern this winter. But this isn't a week that needs flakes or overcast skies or raindrops. It would be so much better with sunshine.

There's beauty in this, though, the same way there is beauty in all parts of life. I've been occupied recently with completing tasks on lists, trying to focus on what's happening right now while daydreaming what happens next, wondering about my abilities and opportunities given my insignificance in the vastness of the universe. And sorting through the emotions stirred up by my latest writing projects.

Yesterday, though, I realized that I've now felt the tiny, warm hand of a friend wrapping around my fingers on his first day in this world ... and I've wrapped my own hand around the large, dry fingers of a friend on his last day. That stopped me in my tracks. With no answers, just a realization of continuity and the fleeting quality of time.

Not much later, little bubbles popped up on my screen. One more distant addition to the prayers and the memories. A simple question. How are you? I could bring the voice up in my head, hear the combination of sincerity and reflex courtesy in the words. More than that, I heard the parallel in Persian, a smooth, automatic slide of a question after a greeting; a translation I'd once had to request. Chetori? 

My answer was true, but safe. Bobbing on the surface. In the background, the real answer was coming through the speakers, reflecting thoughts and emotions on which I keep a tight rein in the interest of self-preservation. Passenger's entire Young as the Morning, Old as the Sea album and a few tracks from All the Little Lights have been on repeat for days.

I love the poetry and relatability, hope and sadness, cheer and bitterness of the lyrics. Although I could quote them all and they'd all be relevant, these verses capture yesterday's swift moment of realization and whirling reactions:   

"... well i’m sick of this town, this blind man’s forage
they take your dreams down and stick them in storage
you can have them back son when you’ve paid off your mortgage and loans
oh hell with this place, i’ll go it my own way
i’ll stick out my thumb and i trudge down the highway
someday someone must be going my way home

till then i’ll make my bed from a disused car
with a mattress of leaves and a blanket of stars
and i’ll stitch the words into my heart with a needle and thread
don’t you cry for the lost
smile for the living
get what you need and give what you’re given
you know life’s for the living so live it ..."