Être reconnaissant, les miserables!

anne-hathaway-short-hair-crying-in-les-miserables-2012So Fantine’s big number in Les Miserables is iconic because everyone (of a certain age) has experienced regrets about moments of youth wasted or lost and, in comparison to perceived former potential, about difficulties in their current lives; I am not unique here and feel that that disclaimer is a necessity. Let’s also throw out there that if you saw the 2012 movie remake and you didn’t experience any emotion during this song that you might be traipsing around some kind of dissociative disorder.

I grew up with musicals: Les Miserables was one of those at the forefront and one I still know most of the words and key changes in (also perhaps of honest note here is the fact that I am about as pitch perfect as a Krispy Kreme donut is fat free.). When I was little, I empathized with young Cosette because I too was little. As I hit the tweens Eponine was my heart’s new star because I identified with feeling scorned and lonely (especially as I became an obese teenager — boy, did I ever feel slated for a lifetime of nonconsensual solitude). Now, apparently, I have graduated to feeling the most kinship with Fantine (I hope this doesn’t suggest that next I will move into Madame Thénardier). Despite being almost 100% caused by the performance in the movie I saw Saturday I will unbegrudgingly accept this new little personal evolution. I identify with Fantine’s bereaved and wistful longings for times when her dreams still came with the kind of earnesty allowed by an unfettered youth.

I had a dream my life would be so different from this hell I’m living.

Oh, lord I imagine we might all have that thought from time to time when things are rough. I don’t imagine I’m alone in identifying with this sentiment — especially anyone with a progressive, or worse, fatal health condition (thank every heaven mine isn’t) has to live with the daily knowledge that… well, that there isn’t a lot of knowledge.

Not being able to see to read does not mean that I cannot read: Technology!

Not being able to see to read does not mean that I cannot read.

What I do know is that, though I was only diagnosed four years ago, this was something that had already been with me for a long time; I feel like what is in me runs at a slow burn that I’m only really starting to believe I notice moving at a faster pace. It is. I can’t read books anymore. Well, haven’t really been able to for a couple of years but now it’s also any large block of text and it’s now even looking too long directly at the computer monitor. Ironically, my vision is 20/15. I had a dream my life would be so different than these eyes I’m getting. But I am an artist, argues the petulant denial. Losing your vision can’t stop that, only change it says my compassion.

But, hey, let’s also take a moment for a gratitude adjustment:

  • I do not live in France during a revolutionary war.
  • I do not live in 19th century anywhere (the hygiene alone!).
  • I am not living on the street.
  • I am not having to turn to prostitution for any damn reason.
  • I don’t have to entrust my only child’s welfare to a handsome stranger on my death bed.
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Science only knows.

Life is hard for everyone on everyone’s own level and in everyone’s own sphere, but right now please take just a moment to pause, breathe and thankfully remember that not a single one of us will ever have to live in the 19th century and die of consumption, cholera, dysentery, pleurisy, dropsy or typhoid fever. Some silver linings are really much, much brighter than your own storm clouds.

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