I cried this morning.
Suddenly and without warning.
When I returned from a morning walk with my dog, I glanced at the clock — and a great wave of emotion struck me when I realized what the time meant: I would have to get ready to go to work.
And I broke down in tears.
These weren’t tears of a man whose employment was soul-crushing. I have known the slings and arrows of a soul-crushing job and wept at the deep-cutting pain it causes.
This morning’s tears were not those. Neither were they a melodramatic modern-day lament about having to work for a living.
No, this morning’s cry was truly a mourning cry. Tears at waking from a dream I desperately did not want to end.
I spent the past five days attending a writers retreat in rural Virginia. I spent my days on the loveliest of farms surrounded by the loveliest of people.
Writers, all of us, gathered from all walks and stripes and experiences trying our best to make sense of this crazy life we’ve all been called to.
The writer’s life is not an easy one. Fraught with constant doubt and anxiety about our words and how they may be received by a world that often does not understand. A world that runs counter to the simple truths and simple wonders of being a writer.
Spending days with these people, these writers, in a place that offered space and breathing room to contemplate and discuss, to muse and mull — for me it was like glimpsing paradise in a dream.
After five days away, it was time to wake from that dream, time to return home and fall back into the routines that make up my own corner of the universe: walking the dog, taking out the trash, going to work, and paying bills.
I cried this morning.
I cried because I had glimpsed paradise and desperately wanted to cling to it, to the little details, the insights, the words, the sensations — the sheer truth of it all.
I didn’t cry long. Only a few seconds. But it was enough. Enough to stop and remember.
Yes, life must go on. The dog must be walked and trash must be taken out. And I must go to work so those bills can be paid.
But returning to the world does not mean I must forget that glimpse of paradise.
Because I won’t.