For some reason, despite the lovely weather and the many good things all around me, a sense of poignance surrounds me.
Perhaps it is the proximity of two anniversaries – my son’s stillbirth in May of 1983, and my father’s death in 1999 – but I am in the habit of feeling sad in spring; even as spring has become my favored time of year.
I choose the word poignance on purpose, as it attaches to the past more than the present. And it comes with a note of regret. The word is related to pungent, as a sharp odor is pungent, and originates in the Latin word pungere which means to pierce or prick. I pricked my finger Thursday evening in fact. It is healing but if I press it in a certain way it still hurts as if fresh. That is what poignance is about. When we feel it, the pain is fresh.
Over the years I have come to prize these moments, even hoard them, because they transport me back in time. Poignance is a kind of time travel. When we feel it, we feel exactly as we did back then. It is not a remembered feeling but the actual feeling – when we longed for a love, were hurt by a friend, disappointed someone, grieved.
Where did I read recently that we remember more keenly the tough times than the hard times? It makes sense, as tough times make us ponder and question. Good times rarely give us pause.
It was also the tough times that gave me my tenderness, perhaps the way people pound meat with a hammer to soften it. However it happens, I have been most in love with the world and its denizens when heart broken. Those times remind me that I am alive. Like the Tin Man says, “Now I know I have a heart, because it’s breaking.”
Of course, with the majority of my life behind me now, it would be very easy to spend most of my days conjuring up poignant scenes. Lord knows I have sins and regrets and pains a plenty to be poignant about. After a few minutes, like those I spent writing this, my mind scolds me and says, “On with it man. Today is here, and there is work to be done.”
We love the world best by saving it, even imperfectly. But a little poignant savoring is also important. A little…