Life comes in waves

O Dia da Criação is among the first poems I read by Vinicius de Moraes, one of the most famous Brazilian poets. I had this live album recorded at Canecão, Rio de Janeiro, in which Vinicius sings with Miúcha and two of his greatest partners, Tom Jobim and Toquinho. The album starts with the song Estamos aí, after which Vinicius says: “for today is Saturday, I will recite the poem O Dia da Criação [The Day of Creation]… a terrible day, right?”

Vinicius’ day of creation is more specifically the sixth day of Genesis, the day when God created man and woman, which, according to the poet, “created all this mess.” God failed in resting on the seventh day, instead of the sixth, says Vinicius. Had god rested on the sixth day and we would not live off the beheading of animals and the choking of fish, we would not be born from pain and we would not have to continuously sacrifice ourselves to get our daily bread.

In the last few days, a verse of this poem has been coming up constantly in my mind: life comes in waves. I have the impression that, perhaps due to social distancing, people are a little more aware of the variations in mood and energy that we go through unceasingly during all our lives. Those who started the quarantine very well have already seen their performance drop and fatigue take over, and those who started very badly have seen their performance improve beyond pre-quarantine levels and new sources of motivation emerge.

Everyone goes through this. Such is life: it comes in waves.

Therefore, when we are at the low point of the wave, we have to remember that we are in the trough of a wave, and not in an unrestrained downward spiral. Because if we forget that its crest is right there, we may fall into despair. And dedicating ourselves to despair only makes things worse.

I recall the words of Tariq West, an unknown poet I met on Quora:

Things can change remarkably quickly, in our inner emotional lives, and in the circumstances that we construct our lives in compromise with. Develop a capacity for differentiating between momentary internal crisis and real, potentially life-shattering crisis. Don’t build your happiness around small, passing events. I think the word for that is “Equanimity”. Practice it. Play a long game and ignore the noise. Few of your mistakes are likely to condemn you and no one achievement will guarantee you comfort.

Play a long game and ignore the noise. Be deeply sure that all things must pass. Remember that life comes in waves, as does the sea.

Be kind.


Original text in Portuguese.

>> Please message me if you notice any English mistakes.

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