Why Is Madonna Making Me Cry?

I mean, she’s good. I remember thinking when I first heard the album that she sounded richer, fuller, and the music was much more diverse and interesting compared to her previous pop offerings. But I’m not a music critic. The quality of the work isn’t what’s making me cry.

I have a friend who would say, “You’re in your feelin’s.”

On this lazy Sunday morning, I’ve got the time, so I’m going to take the time to figure out why I’m in my feelings, even if I have to put Ray of Light on repeat.

The album was released in America in March of 1998. Ruth was 1 1/2 years old. That makes Ben 3 1/2 and Sam 4 months shy of 6.

Those mathematical calculations may be completely off. I have always been terrible with dates and with nailing down the events associated with them. I rely on the kindness of others to correct me and set me straight. But if I’m right, in March of 1998 I was in the throes–IN THE THROES–of wrestling with my sexuality. I was living in fear, and I was scared to death. I was also excited at the prospect of joy.

Unpacking all of that is something for another post (or perhaps a book). But within it lies the answer to why Madonna is making me cry. 20 years later I feel the same way: I’m still afraid, and I’m still exited at the prospect of joy.

If I’m alive, I expect that 20 years from now I will still feel the same. The key is for there to be more joy than fear. When I compare now with 20 years ago, I can say with conviction and gratitude that there’s more joy than fear. While present fear brought to light by Madonna this morning may be the source of my tears, there’s also a healthy dose of joyful gratitude mixed in.

Nothing takes the past away
Like the future
Nothing makes the darkness go
Like the light
You’re shelter from the storm
Give me comfort in your arms
Nothing really matters
Love is all we need
Everything I give you
All comes back to me

–Madonna, “Nothing Really Matters”

The Light Shines Differently

plant in the light

Dr. Melissa West introduced me to Lakshmi during yoga a few day ago. Lakshmi is the Hindu goddess of wealth, both physical and spiritual. With her four arms, four hands, twenty fingers, lavish jewels, and endless flow of coins, Lakshmi can symbolize abundance. In yoga practice, Dr. West encouraged me to let go of scarcity and embrace abundance. She said that often her students are quick to identify what’s lacking in a pose while they fail to express gratitude for what’s working well. Instead of dwelling on the fact that I can’t stand on my right leg in tree pose for any length of time, or that my mind keeps wandering to dinner or laundry during savasana, I can think about how my breathing is good today, or how I am able to release the tension in my shoulders and neck.

I’m not a cold weather person. The additional layers of clothing, the shorter days, the increased time spent indoors all amount to borderline seasonal depression for me. However, after bundling up to walk the dogs the other day, I noticed how the light shines differently through the windows this time of year. I saw a sharp contrast between the light and the shadows, and how the grapevine ivy looked like it was plugged into a socket. The light this time of year, what little there is of it, is beautiful.

plant black and white

These are all little prompts—the goddess Lakshmi, the yoga, the light on the plant—nudging me to deal with the big thing I have been avoiding. I wanted to call it a bad thing, but that’s lack thinking. It wasn’t a thing that could have landed me in jail, but I went about doing it in a way that hurt someone I love. It may have hurt multiple someones. It had the potential to hurt many people. It hurt me. Even in the wake of the thing, I’m trying to find the good in it, the plenty, the possible, the abundance, the gratitude, the light beside the shadows, but it’s difficult. It’s easier to defend or rationalize my choices, berate my actions, wallow in my guilt.

Here are the the lessons I’m learning:

• it is important for me to be honest with myself and with others about both my needs and my desires.

• I believe in the verisimilitude of unimagined possibilities, but possibilities become limited if we sever relationships or damage them beyond repair.

• no matter how hard I wish for something, there are some things I cannot accomplish through willpower.

• there are no shortcuts. I am not any more special than anyone else, for we are all special in that we all are loved and we have the capacity to love.

• abundance is a choice.

Yoga with Lakshmi