Bitter. Sweet.

Bittersweet is one of my favorite words.

Bittersweet can be an adjective, describing an emotional state of being.

both bitter and sweet to the taste:
bittersweet chocolate.
both pleasant and painful or regretful:
a bittersweet memory.

Bittersweet can be a noun, the state of being itself.

Also called woody nightshade. a climbing or trailing plant, Solanum dulcamara, of the nightshade family, having small, violet, star-shaped flowers with a protruding yellow center and scarlet berries.
Also called climbing bittersweet. any climbing plant of the genus Celastrus, bearing orange capsules opening to expose red-coated seeds, especially C. scandens.
pleasure mingled with pain or regret:
the bittersweet of parting.

It says so much, so simply. This is good, yes? This is the stuff of life.

Pure joy is a rare commodity. Most joy has some element, somewhere, of sorrow. It could be the sorrow of what is missing, or the sorrow of what is yet to be, or the sorrow of wanting to share it with someone who is not present, or the sorrow of knowing that it cannot be sustained. 

Being in the moment is so difficult because we carry so much into each moment. We carry the burden of what has passed and we carry the anticipation of what's to come. This makes being fully engaged and invested in what is happening right now challenging. The moment is all that is real and moments pass before we can evaluate them. We assign meaning to them in retrospect. We alter them by examining them. Moments are not good or bad, they just are. We view moments through clouded lenses.

As I get older, I find myself feeling more bittersweet. I see the seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years of moments mounting. I know that what lies behind me is greater than what lies before me. My moments are decreasing. This gives them a deeper resonance, but that's my lens. The moments to come are no more or less important than the moments that have passed.

I think more often these days about the importance of not wasting moments, yet I waste them anyway. I waste them focused on what I don't have, what I have lost, and what I didn't say or do. I waste them waiting for invitation, illumination, or affirmation. This is frivolous. My life is a nanosecond in eternity. Most of what I find happy or sad or meaningful is meaningless in the face of infinity.

I know this. Yet, here I am, breathing in, breathing out. Feeling all the feelings. Stretching towards infinity. Aching for meaning. Seeking the purity of the unfettered  moment.

The joy and the sorrow. The pleasure and the pain. The failure and the success. In the Tao it is all the same.

Bittersweet, both pleasant and painful. 

Yes, this. 



  1. I had this same conversation with a friend this morning. Bittersweet. Yep, that about sums it up.

  2. Dearest Madge,
    As always your thoughtfulness in every experience and expression is so touching. I love the word bittersweet and all it means. Life is full of those moments and I believe it means we have lived and loved deeply. The years ahead become shorter but I have found in my 60's more acceptance not sure if that is the right word or I am ok with it. I am more present, the grandlittles have helped that happen and I am more aware of the memories I am making and leaving along the way. We contribute to life in such a way we will always live on and you dearest Madge certainly will. We just have to embrace each day but in the days of empty nests, the in between, the wondering, bittersweet does indeed sum it up. Love you dear heart.

    1. Debra, you always have the perfect words. I am so blessed to call you friend. Thank you!


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