a murder of one.

gioia /joy·ee·ah/          dolore /dul·ore·ay/

First things first. What is gioiadolore? It is Italian for joy and sorrow. More importantly, it is an idea I’ve been batting about since I was a teenager.

One for sorrow, two for mirth. Three for a funeral, four for birth. Five for heaven. Six for hell. Seven for the devil, his own self.

This superstitious nursery rhyme dates back to Britain circa 1780. The saying contends that you can determine your fate by the number of magpies that cross your path. Here in America, we associate this rhyme more with crows because 1) magpies are much less common, and 2) the Counting Crows modernized the rhyme in the song A Murder of One.

One for sorrow. Two for joy. This song has been my favorite since I first heard it playing on mom’s stereo in 1995. At its core, it is damn depressing. But there is still a note of hope and possibility. Dreams and lost love and finding yourself. Change.

When I was younger I thought that being one meant sadness but that having a pair meant automatic joy. I’ve even considered for my second tattoo a pair of crows. One light and one in dark.

Nessun maggior dolore che ricordarsi del tempo felice nella miseria. – Dante Inferno, Canto V 

“There is no greater sorrow than while remembering a time of happiness in your misery.” In college, I was a bit of a Dante nerd. When I came across this gem in Inferno, something struck. The scales are not as black and white as a magpie. One, you get sadness. Two, you get bliss. It is a balance. There is not one without the other.

At the heart of what I’d like to say here, in this forum, is that it is Ok to rage and cry and laugh and experience joy. All together. Recognizing the nugget of joy within the sorrow, within all things is a daily struggle. But it is a worthwhile fight.


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