When I was stressed I just wanted someone to say, « it will be okay. ». I asked him to say it, just say it for me and he said how can that comfort you if you asked me to say it. Just say it. Everything will be okay or all right, thank you Bob Marley. Sometimes I just want someone to speak aloud words, any words of solace, even if they are formulaic. When my yoga teacher says words of comfort, I want to cry but in a good way.
I looked up the etymology and as you may well imagine, it is con with and fort strength. Give me strength, succor, a gentle phrase to help me sleep. Friends are reading children’s books online, posting dance videos, making art challenges, texting about what to eat for dinner. Comfort. We all want to console each other or be consoled and where is the line between the two?
In Sevilla, in a very loud café, I watched a baby sleeping in a stroller, a Spanish baby with fortitude. He woke up. Nothing jolted or started. His eyes blinked open slowly and then he smiled, hair still in his eyes, his head still cocked sideways. I am here. You are here. I want words of comfort that feel like that baby’s face. A slow dawning delight, oh, here we are, on this planet together and there you are. But since the baby does not have language maybe it is even more marvelous without words, just that feeling. Go ahead, tilt your head, close your eyes, and then simultaneously slowly open your eyes and smile. There you are precious being, there you are precious world.
In my younger years I wanted words of comfort that would save me, pull me out of the wild sea of my own trauma, of my pain. Save me. I wanted someone to say I see you, I acknowledge you, maybe I see you and the light within you. All these years, all these yoga classes, we’ve been saying it. Namaste. I still crave the imagined life raft of words from long ago: you are beautiful, we belong together, I love you, my life is better with you but it’s like the donuts or cigarettes or even a golden glass of whisky that all look so appealing but won’t make the night any shorter or the love any truer. We do not know what lies ahead. Words of comfort, time of comfort or a comforting touch. If you’re too old or your mother is too far away, just stroke your own hair. Does it matter who says the words of comfort? Can we just say them aloud to ourselves? A long time ago I wanted to write a book called the involuntary consolation of sheep. All the life around us can give us strength, can remind us of our own strength even if the wisteria refuses to speak and other people’s cats run the other way.