This was originally intended to be another private journal entry, but it’s simply too much for me to write by hand. Besides, deep down I kind of enjoy the attention.
I’ve read a handful of C.S. Lewis books. Until today, The Four Loves has been my absolute favorite, followed by Till We Have Faces. Actually, it’s been my favorite of all nonfiction books I have ever read. That book has been replaced now. Today, I started (and finished) reading A Grief Observed.
Basically, it’s the private journal that Lewis wrote right after his wife died of cancer. Of all the books I have read, Grief is easily the saddest, most gut wrenching and heart shattering one. It’s tragic. Painful. Depressing.
And surprisingly, hopeful.
Naturally, it reads differently than his other books; it’s more personal, more…intimate. It records his grieving and the way his mind processed all of it in graphic detail.
When I read The Four Loves, it clicked well with me. I understood it. This resonated with me differently though. This felt like a deeper level. Something more natural, maybe?
I should also mention that I’ve been up for 28 hours with 90 minutes of sleep. I get unusually introspective when I’m sleep deprived, and I’ll be lucky if I remember anything from the past 5 hours after I wake up.
So, why did this book hit home so well for me? I haven’t had any significantly tragic losses or grief to observe in my life. I do have an idea or two about why it clicked more significantly with me than The Four Loves did though: Condensed down, I have issues accepting love from others. It’s just one of the issues I have, which is highly exacerbated when I’m sleepy and overly introspective, like now.
But this book is about grief, not love. Sure, one could argue that the two are connected, and they certainly are. However, we all perceive love differently. Love is messy and complicated and blind and happy and simple and sometimes confusing and always awesome.
But, at least for me, this grief Lewis wrote about is more universally understood. Everyone understands pain and loss. Everyone understands tragedy. Everyone understands heartache.
I process emotions and behavior differently than most people. I have been trying to figure out the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ of it for a very long time, and I still don’t have many answers. Certainly not any answers I’m content with. But I can confidently say that I know, for a fact, that I simply just don’t do emotions and emotion-related behavior like most other people.
Most of my emotions are choices. If I’m angry, it’s generally because I chose to be angry for whatever reason, and I stop when I decide it’s time to stop. If love is involved, it’s usually something I choose to do blah blah blah.
Being clinically minded and able to isolate my emotions from my actions is something I’ve prided myself in. I haven’t figured out if it’s a good or a bad thing yet (or either at all), but currently, it’s how I am.
That’s why A Grief Observed surprised me. In The Four Loves, Lewis broke down the main types of love and explained them in clinical and relatively emotionless terms. That was easy for me to process. Love is a choice, a character trait, a disposition, etc.. It’s something that one chooses to do, not necessarily something one simply feels.
In A Grief Observed, it was only feelings. Only emotions. No choices. No dispositions, at least not on the same scale as TFL. It was strictly emotion driven, and debilitating emotions at that
I got it. I understood it. I identified with what he wrote.
It surprised me.
What I’m going to do with this newfound knowledge, I don’t know yet.
Lewis said that it’s at our worst when our character is defined, because “you never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you.”
Maybe that’s part of the reason why grief and sadness reveal (and build) more character than love does.
Maybe I’ll write a blog about that.