I am at a loss for words.
And as a writer, the inability to find words can be a problem.
Yet, here I am, in front of my computer, requisite candle flickering beside me, and I can’t come up with the right word to describe the way that I am feeling after last Saturday’s book launch event.
There are words that I could use, of course, but each of them seems inadequate for some reason or another. There are words that come close, but don’t quite encompass it all.
Of course, I am relieved and happy – ecstatic, really – but those are just slivers of the spectrum. They are the glossy finish to a colorful painting, just skimming the surface and giving it a glow yet not capturing the essence of its intensity.
Some people might use the word blessed in situations like this, but I struggle with this word for several reasons and it just doesn’t fit in my lexicon.
Grateful comes pretty darn close, maybe even the closest. I am so very grateful for everyone who came out on Saturday night – whether it required getting a babysitter for the kids or driving long distances or rearranging existing plans or just mustering up the energy to change out of sweatpants and leave the couch (no small feat, I know!) – and I am also grateful for everyone who couldn’t be at the event but showed their support in other ways. I’m grateful for everyone who has bought Open Boxes and supported my writing over the past few years. Like I said on Saturday night, writing is a very vulnerable act, especially when you write about your own life like I do, so every little ounce of support has been a life raft in what can be very choppy waters. Yes, I am definitely grateful, but somehow the words thank you just don’t seem like enough. Thank you is what you say when someone brings you a casserole or picks up your dry cleaning. Thank you is what you say when someone feeds your fish while you are on vacation or sends you a birthday card. But what do you say to people who have, quite simply, changed your life? What do you say when “thank you” doesn’t seem like enough?
I am definitely overwhelmed and in awe of your kindness, love, and support. I am humbled and amazed. Like a moisturizer for the soul, your love and kindness has seeped into my pores and it will continue to nourish me for a long time to come. But for some reason those words seem to suggest a space between me and experience itself. Like I am over here on this side and the experience – including you all and your amazingly beautiful kindness – are over there on the other side. We’re waving at each other and I am putting on my sunglasses because I am blinded by your beauty, but somehow I can’t make my way over to the light. And if you know me or you read Open Boxes, you know that I am all about the light and connection. And connecting to the light. So words like overwhelmed and awed and humbled and amazed, while very true, don’t seem like enough either.
I suppose sometimes there just are NO WORDS. Some things are too beautiful and too amazing, or we are too grateful or too happy, and the appropriate words aren’t big enough to do hold them. Sometimes we experience something so powerful or meaningful that if feels like we are walking on holy ground, like the space between this world and Something Bigger has closed a little bit. I recently finished reading the book “Wonder” (a must-read book, by the way) and in it, one of the characters reads this quote:
“It was at moments such as these that Joseph recognized the face of God in human form. It glimmered in their kindness to him, it glowed in their keenness, it hinted in their caring, indeed it caressed in their gaze.”
I have seen that glimmer in a round-faced man in an Old Navy parking lot, in shards of broken sunlight, and in my kids’ faces and Matt, of course. And in the past few days, I have seen that glimmer and glow in your emails and phone calls and messages, in flowers sent from far away friends, and in the face of every single person who walked into that room last Saturday night.
Sometimes there just are no words. Sometimes things are bigger and more powerful than words. Some things are more beautiful than words. Sometimes people are kinder and more generous and more loving than those words. Sometimes life is just too good for words. And yes, sometimes life is harder and more painful than words.
But the lack of words doesn’t change the depth of our emotion, the truth in our soul. The inability to name some things doesn’t change the way these things bury their way into our hearts and minds, the way these things lift us up and carry us forward and make us who we are. In fact, maybe it is the indescribable moments that are the most meaningful. Maybe there are certain feelings that can’t be named because they transcend language, they move beyond this world and take us just a little closer to that other world and the holy side of things.
Last night, after a long and busy and exhausting and wonderful weekend, we picked up Chipotle for dinner. Because nothing caps off a great weekend like salty tortilla chips, guacamole, and fat burritos. And like some kind of cosmic mind-reader, the brown paper bag said it all. I may be struggling to find the right words but, thankfully, Amy Tan is able to say them for me: “I was punched breathless with the strongest emotions I have ever felt and they are now stored in my intuition as a writer.”
Well, that and the biggest, deepest, loudest THANK YOU ever.