On being here, right here, as the world wakes up to itself

Sometimes I have bright days—days full of warmth, lingering mirage—& I feel guilty for it. Right now there’s so much horror unfolding, & heroes dying, & lies unravelling, & lights winking out, that I wonder whether any glimmer of happiness is undeserved. Whether I should be feeling something more of the dread that seems to seep through the fabric of living. Something more of the suffering, the bodies, the sonless mothers & sunless skies, something of the delicate balance outside drawing ever nearer to a breaking point. These days it feels as if the world is floundering on the edge of something tangibly monstrous, & laughing at a cat video or a misheard song lyric or my baby sister’s bedhead might be the breaking point. The thing that pushes every other thing over the edge.

I’m stuck, always, in this liminal space, this stretch between silence & light, this incessant wondering whether I owe the world my suffering. Whether it’s my duty to watch the terror & feel terrified.

But then I think: there has to be a rebellion in joy, too.

Because terror is exhausting, is a draining bone-deep fatigue. Terror is a bruise in itself. But joy? Joy is transformative. It is an act of healing.

& all that keeps flashing through my head is: these horrors have been happening since the dawn of time, & somehow, by some cosmic ruby wink, we are here, now, watching the world wake up to itself. Watching it come to understand the injustice it’s created, watching it try & try to put a tiny part of this right. & it’s something, I think, in this tender blooming knowing—that if joy is healing, is a rebellion (& it must be, it must be) then there is work, too, in realising that we are here, right here, for a reason.

& I can’t think about it too often or it will make me cry, but even through the panic there is joy, so much joy in it all—something about this life & these people, something about this book & these readers, something about that sky shimmering above & this music carving me out & filling me up all at once—it’s just so much, you know? It’s just a lot, & it’s so much warmth in so much cold, & I don’t know if I’ll ever have the right words to describe this feeling of I am so happy, & I am so sad, & this life is a horrifying place, & this life is a place I never thought I could possibly love the way I do right now.

But some part of the story happens here, doesn’t it, when I’m aghast & thriving, when the walls stretch higher than I ever imagined, when there’s so much left to do & say & make, when checking the news makes me want to vomit, when dinner table conversation is like driving without a seatbelt—but somehow I take a breath & it hits me all at once, this soft-stinging feeling, this surrender to light. It happens here, it does. That joy & that terror mixing into one another—I just look around & I think, my god, this is the world. This is really, really it. This is what it’s made of, & this is what we’re shaping it into. & I’m so weary, & so overwhelmed, & so much is broken, & so much can never again be put right. But my god. We’re here. We’re here. Sometimes I think about that outrageous gorgeous fact, I think about all the people who made it possible, & of all the lives I could have, all the ones I could know, all the skies I could weep beneath, all the stories I could tell—& I’m grateful that this world, this life, is the one I’ve fallen into. & if that’s not a revolution, what could possibly be?

It’s a lot. It’s so much, & I don’t know how to articulate it, I don’t know how to tell you how deeply I’m feeling this, how every part of me thrums & aches & thinks how did it ever come to this, & still, still, still I can’t imagine a place brighter than the one we’re at here, right now. That stubborn reaching joy—it’s like daisies in a minefield or falling in love for the first time. It’s like the future is a baby falling asleep in our arms—that feeling of a creature so vulnerable that trusts us so wholly, in a way that’s so full & unguarded & real—& I don’t want to hold it the wrong way, too tight or too loose, I want it to know it’s safe here. We’re going to take care of it, as best we can. & we can’t fix it all, we can’t make everything okay again, but all at once, it’s like—

it’s like, this, right here, is the world is waking up to itself. & we are lucky enough to be here. We are lucky enough to witness it.

& the joy in that is headstrong, it’s furious & courageous & merciful, & how could that not be a resistance? & I inhale & yearn for more, I pack a pocketknife in my schoolbag, I spill coffee down my wrist, I recycle tin cans that a year ago I would have thrown into the trash, I watch the news & cry, I cherish the things that leave most quickly, & through it all I think, over & over again: this, this is life. This is what we’re making. This is where we’re going. Don’t lose this, please. Whatever you do, don’t lose this.