This morning is an ugly, rainy, windy (and in some locations) snowy and slushy day. We’re due for one, right? I mean, in the area I’m writing from, we’ve had three days or so of sunshiny though chilly weather, when even if it wasn’t particularly nice to go outside, it was pleasant to look through the window at sunbeams dancing across old snow mounds, dirty though they were. So, you’d think I’d face a seasonably rotten day with equanimity, wouldn’t you? Only, it’s been almost a week now since I’ve posted, and I have been feeling worse and worse every day because I’ve been stalling and kibbutzing and trying to get around it somehow, anyhow, reading book after book and having little or nothing to contribute about any of them. It’s as if the weather gods had said to me, “Okay, you don’t appreciate it and make use of it when we send you good weather, so here’s what you deserve for goofing off! Something more in line with your frame of mind!” The most I could pat myself on the back for was that I hadn’t brought anyone else’s mood down measurably, at least not as far as I knew.
I had placed a call to a friend the other day, and not finding him in had left a message that was short, informative, and as cheerful as I could make it under the circumstances of not having anything really good to share that would distinguish it. I like to say happy things to my friends, as do we all, but sometimes we just don’t have the umph! or the good news to do so, and it’s a toss-up amongst whether or not we will be good friends and say what is really on our minds (sad parts and all, in true honesty), support their possible down moods, or whether we will go all sweetness-and-light and try to pretend that nothing is wrong. You notice, of course, that it sometimes seems to be a choice between being honest and being supportive of someone else’s good mood, or at least that’s the way some people interpret it when they quote John Ray’s nostrum “Misery loves company.” For, here’s the thing: we don’t really bring anyone else’s mood down by telling them how lousy we’re feeling, at least not if they are true and good friends. The fly-by-nights we can do without. In actual fact, it makes someone feel needed and helpful to be able to reassure us that the good weather will come again, that we are not alone, that they too are feeling overcome by the weather, the neighbors, the political climate, the gods. It’s just that we need to take turns, and touch base with each other too when we are both feeling lousy, not shutting ourselves off to suffer alone and apart when the impulse is to do so, but instead making contact with our part of the human community and letting it know what we’re going through.
Luckily, today I got a call back from my friend, and he was having a bad day today, as was I, and even though I would have much preferred to hear that his day was good, “misery loves company” was true in the sense that I was very, very glad to hear from my friend in spite of his down mood. Because, after all, it was an honest tribute to my sharing what I could share, which was my certainty that this bad weather can’t last forever, that my friend’s sunny mood will once again return, and that his quips and witticisms will once again resurface to brighten the sad times I have when I’m alone and apart in my suffering. And that’s why misery loves company–it doesn’t matter so much whether the company is able to be reassuring or is feeling low as well, though a lift is always nice; just the knowledge that two are commiserating instead of one standing alone is a real help, and after all, there are people all over this area who are experiencing the same sort of day as we are, and they too may encounter me and we may share sad soul sayings and perspectives, thus broadening the community of people fighting against a lousy day. So if you are having a lousy day today, or bad weather, or bad luck, don’t crawl into a hole and lick your wounds: share your troubles with a friend and give him or her the opportunity to brighten things up for you–by doing so, you may be making that person’s day brighter too!