“Force, hatred, history, all that. That’s not life for men and women, insult and and hatred. And everybody knows that it’s the very opposite of that that is really life. Love, says Bloom. I mean the opposite of hatred.”
– James Joyce, Ulysses
I used to have a different favorite quote from one of my favorite books, Ulysses. I’m not going to copy and paste what Molly Bloom said that I loved so much here. I may never quote her again. But the passage above? I’m holding it close to my little heart as I venture back out in the world of the friends and family who love me. Like actually love me. Not pretend to love me so that they can do unkind things to me to make themselves feel alive.
I find myself, so many months post-James, feeling desolate. Not missing him. But missing me. The girl who went to a war she didn’t know she would be fighting. A girl who came back so changed and so fucking sad. I’d like to think there’s some great reason behind that. There isn’t, though.
The idea that everything happens for a reason messes with me. I believe that it’s probably bullshit. I do believe there is something to learn from what we experience. And whatever we are learning isn’t always brimming with hope and self-discovery. That kindness isn’t returned, even when freely given. That life isn’t fair, even when we play fairly. That people will hurt us, even intentionally and perhaps especially intentionally.
I’d like to think, though, that despite the lessons I didn’t intend to learn, that love exists. I can put on my own Leopold Bloom cap and be a citizen, a mother, a wanderer and someone worthy of love. There is a Bloomsday out there even for me.
Life is love. Life is love. Life is love.