One Note Samba

29 Dec

rossiI cracked open a fortune cookie years ago and looked over my shoulder, sure that the author was perched a few tables behind me, typing the most pertinent truth for each noodle-slurping customer in the shiny, redone Vietnamese restaurant. I was clearly the girl with glasses and carefully, carelessly knotted scarf, seated with the bespectacled ice sculpture of a man who was smiling faintly at my commentary. There was only one fortune for me:

“Joys are often the shadows cast by sorrows.”

Damn straight. I posted the rectangle of paper on my bedroom mirror and patched its meaning into my permanent understanding of the world.

Even though some guy in a factory in Pennsylvania probably penned this observation, I really commend him on his ability to harness the subtlety of eastern philosophy. Joy would definitely never be equated with a grim shadow in western optimism’s seven habits of successful smilers. But the truth of the analogy is entirely accurate. Sometimes only in light of sadness can we see a glimmer of a grin.

Earlier this evening, in the manner of my habit since childhood, I finished reading one book and immediately picked up a new one. The first of these was a memoir about tremendous loss, and the second is a hammily translated autobiography of Italian Moto GP racing legend Valentino Rossi. I confess that as I wiped away tears still glistening in reflection of the pursuit of hope in the aftermath of death, I was barely suppressing a grin as my gaze slid over the visage of Rossi on the dust jacket of the barely-touched used copy of his book. Who can frown when Rossi’s around?

That fortune cookie writer had me pegged. He had me “pinned and wriggling on the wall,” as Prufrock seethes in my risky mantra. For me, the greatest joys in life have arrived as a curtain call to sorrow. I used to specialize in sadness, and now I am the girl who laughs way too damn hard at episodes of Frasier. I grew up in a family that bonded via lamentation and now I am the girl who suggests we go see This is 40 after I have a pseudo anxiety attack during a post-holiday retail excursion. These days, in the shadows cast by sorrows, I would rather laugh than cry. I would rather laugh because I’m about ready to cry.

2 Responses to “One Note Samba”

  1. Doug September 8, 2014 at 12.33 pm #

    The original quote is part of a sermon by Puritan minister Henry Ward Beecher. The Tao of of Plymouth Rock.

    • bunkyhuron September 8, 2014 at 1.25 pm #

      Thank you so much, Doug! I will have to read that. So glad there’s a larger philosophical picture around this notion.

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