Redefining "Progress"

A few days ago I was looking through an old journal to try to find a specific date to go along with a vague memory, and I stumbled on this little hiccup I wrote almost a year ago.
I am more in love with this world,
with You,
than I have ever been,
even as I have never felt so disconnected, untouchable, unknowable
(not that I’m so unique in my isolation, not that I’m so deep as to be unfathomable).
I love all the more fiercely,
realizing that only a fraction of this love that bursts my heart,
will penetrate the clear, protective coating in which you’ve (we all have) been dipped.
I would do anything (anything?) to be,
to feel as though, to believe I am,
part of You (without drowning in this fear, without grasping onto this hope).
I remember writing this, scribbling bits and pieces of it over the course of a few days without quite knowing what it was that I was trying to articulate–it addresses no one particular person but, rather, a metaphorical You that encompasses both those who are dear to me and those who will never even know I exist. When I finally put the bits together, to my surprise, they didn’t form a paragraph. I wasn’t able to make sense of my words/feelings until I broke up the lines, until I allowed them the latitude to both bleed into each other and to breathe in the spaces between.
I’ve been through a lot in the year since I wrote these lines, and what I penned with bittersweet optimism, I found myself reading with fatalistic resignation when I happened upon them recently. At first this both saddened and even frightened me just a little–it felt like a sort of regression, a step backwards on the path of equanimity I am trying to walk. But then it occurred to me that perhaps the important thing to notice is not what has slipped away since I wrote this but, rather, what has endured, what has remained soft and vulnerable despite hardening experiences: at the heart of this little doodle of mine is a drive to love, to connect, in the face of perceived separateness and while shouldering burdens I don’t feel capable of sharing. If this drive to love and connect remains, maybe that’s a kind of progress, or at the very least, a refusal to retreat further into the isolation that causes so much of this suffering in the first place.

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