My life is full of boxes. Some empty, some full. Some packed a year or more ago. Every object, every article of clothing, every picture is a decision, a memory to keep or discard.

I have spent much of the last year feeling heartsick. There so much sorrow. I don’t need to list the causes. You know them. The big and global ones are surely in your consciousness every waking moment, or at least when you haven’t been able to distract yourself with friends or work or a good book or food or screens of all sizes.

The loss of paradise, the self-expulsion from Eden that we commit each day in the names of comfort and convenience and at the service of much insatiable greed – your body, dare I say your spirit, feels it happening. What has been done to give us this civilization is not-so-slowly killing this planet as we know it.

The more personal sorrows – well, they differ from human to human. What feels true to me is that all of us are heartsick and looking for ways to stop the pain and sorrow.

This idea, that all of us share, and refuse to share, the basic pattern of grief, first came to me in 2001 when desperation met violence, and something collapsed inside our guts. Some say only those who lived or worked in sight of the towers can lay claim to the loss, but you know the truth.

Whether you live in Manhattan or Malaysia you are now subject to the realization that life has never been secure or safe, that the best laid plans often cause more problems than they solve, and that it is impossible to escape your own culpability. Even the most fortunate of us seem to always want more.

How do we compensate for all this sadness? Our conflicting desires for safety and adventure have put us on the couch in front of what turns out to be a poor substitute for boredom. We seek happiness when contentment could be so much more attainable. What was it Mick Jagger couldn’t get enough of? Wouldn’t we be happy with just that? Instead, the production values of our lives grow darker and meaner, giving us more pain, more fear, more sorrow.

So, I avoid the archaeology of my life, this packing and processing of my past, and procrastinate by paying bills and writing about the despair of a human race that seems to have lost touch with the simple joys of breathing and eating good food and sharing laughter with friends. And by refusing to grieve we only hold true feeling at bay.

The packing is still there to be done. In breaks from writing, I fill wardrobe boxes and make trips to the transfer station. I measure furniture and the spaces in my new apartment where such things might fit. I take one last look at bits of paper whose meaning might remain inside me after the artifacts are left behind. What does one do with blank CDs that all look the same without a machine to read them?
It is enough to make any of us melancholy.

Of course, there are exceptions. The cat is handling the increasing number of boxes, and the decreasing amount of floor space they leave, surprisingly well. From the evidence, I think she is an existentialist.

In her small world, with all its regularity, she seems content with the same food served at the same time every day. She finds excitement in a short flight of carpeted stairs and, if purring signifies joy, happiness in the simple affection and warmth of a loving companion. Security and adventure appear to be in harmony for her.

Taking yet another procrastination break, I picked up John Green’s new book, “The Anthropocene Reviewed.” Green and his brother, Hank Green, show up on YouTube each week as the vlogbrothers, asking and answering one another’s questions, large and small. John Green also produces an educational program and has written a few novels. I’ll leave it to you to find them.

At the end of his introduction, Green talks about Maurice Sendak’s last interview. (If you only know Sendak as the author and illustrator of “Where the Wild Things Are,” make him part of that library trip where you find Green’s novels.) In the interview, Sendak tells Terry Gross that he finds, as he grows older, that he is “in love with the world.”

Love, as anyone who has ever experienced it will tell you, can open you up to a world of hurt. Loving the world – well, it’s that much more pain.

I’m only two chapters into “The Anthropocene Reviewed,” which you can probably also find at a library or bookstore. So far, Green is doing a good job of reminding me that leaving what you love is not to be avoided; it is the inevitable result of our lives.

I can cope with the trauma of all these boxes and the cat will find a replacement for the stairs. The loss of paradise, the daily reminders of the all-too-human rapacity in which we all participate, that might be more difficult. But as Green points out, we are not in this alone. Not in the making of our sorrow nor in whatever remedy we might find.

My delaying tactic of writing instead of packing has led to its own inevitable conclusion. It’s time to send these words to my editor and pack the next box, the one that will hold this computer. Have a good week. Feel more, even if it breaks your heart.

Shlomit Auciello is a writer, photographer, and human ecologist who has lived in Midcoast Maine since 1988. Letter From Away has appeared online and in print, on and off since 1992, and is published here on a weekly basis.

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