In the midst of an email discussion with my Improv team about meeting up at a food truck rally, one team member mentioned he was writing while on a date at a Park Slope bar. When pressed for details about said date, he revealed that, "Eh...best of times, worst of times comes to mind."
I don't know how that tension plays out on a date, but I do know how it plays out in life. Not that I'm living in a Dickensian depiction of the French Revolution, exactly, but nevertheless - the phrase feels somewhat apt, as of late.
* * *
Beks came to midtown and met me for a workday lunch. Over bowls of Thai curry, she asked, "What's new?" and I gave her the highlights reel, the "best" of my times: some exciting performance opportunities, fun creative projects, weekend getaways, a litany of lectures I've attended recently that are still running my motor, dinners out with friends, trips to the theater, a book I read that captured my thoughts completely, long walks in a park that I'm lucky to live just two blocks away from.
But when she looked at me intently and asked, "Are you doing ok?" I had to shake my head and answer in tears. No. Underneath the busy-ness of those good things, there is hurt, there is longing that is loud; there is that frustrated feeling of being "stuck"; there is isolation, there is bruised faith, there are unanswered questions, there are tiny grievances, there are big fears.
It is the best of times and the worst of times.
* * *
It's that both that I've mentioned before; a good and a bad - existing together - in tension.
I've been thinking about it again, frequently, as I weave through midtown streets before and after work. And I've been wondering about the math of it: why this good + bad doesn't net zero, exactly. One might expect them to cancel each other out, leaving you neutral.
But no - the bad doesn't erase the good. Neither does the good necessarily temper the bad; bad is still bad. A success in one area of life can't always be a salve for a wound in a different area.
You feel them both - best and worst - together, at the same time. And you're anything but neutral.