Select Page

I’m thinking that the value of sadness is under-rated and that I can learn something from just letting it flow instead of pushing it back down the rabbit hole. Once I wallow long enough, how do I know when I’m finished wallowing? I think at first that it feels indulgent but surprisingly satisfying. Then the drama sets in, and I enjoy – well almost – the sadness because it is like a comforting cloak that I wrap around myself. Like the early Hollywood actor, Greta Garbo, “I want to be alone!” Sadness, or heavy heartedness gives me an identity – a reason for being, as if just being isn’t good enough. I seem to need to add a bit of drama – overly sad, totally distraught – I’m not just plainly me. Sadness feels satisfying in its’ awfulness. It gives me a new understanding of heartache and the dark night of the soul which generally lasts longer than one dark night.

 

This gloriously melodramatic feeling comes on when I feel inadequate. Vision issues contributed to learning obstacles which made me feel “less than” with my peers thus contributing to a fear of exposing my lack of knowledge so when I am unsuccessful in escaping a debate or a theoretical discussion and I can’t explain myself clearly enough because I am feeling too nervous to find the words, or perhaps I just don’t know enough on the topic it’s hard to fake it so I end up feeling like a fool which takes years to get over, so it all results in my feeling sad. Therefore, the need to retreat into sadness is like delicious medicine.

 

Sadness is also a break from being productive, like a permission slip. “I’m just too sad” so I let it go for a while with good reason because the sadness is so enveloping and kind of cozy. I want to stay here for a while.

 

Eventually, however, the sadness loses its drama appeal and I begin to feel lazy instead. I suppose that’s when I’m beginning to feel better. I don’t want to let it go but it’s time for a shower, brush my teeth and fix hair that’s sticking up and out as if I were just electrocuted. I need to get dressed and go out for a walk, but the fresh air will be like a slap in the face. “Snap out of it!” I can see Cher chastising me for self-indulgence, though I argue, “Is its self- indulgence or am I nurturing myself?” The latter has more appeal.

 

The bottom line? I like sadness, it’s like being on a retreat from climbing the ladder of success, from the journey to oneness, from going out to dinner with people I don’t want to be with. “Sorry, I’m not the best of company right now,” and then back to the sofa in my robe with the remote safely in my pocket.

 

But now, the sadness is beginning to lose its’ charm and I feel a subtle discomfort like an itch that I can’t scratch. I need something, but I don’t know what it is. It’s not food, maybe it’s work, “Oh no, I don’t work anymore. What a relief, but now what?” This reminds me of a little newspaper clipping someone gave me so many years ago with a quote from the disgruntled Sir Henry, the Humble Philosopher. He was a character in a 1960’s English radio series: He shouted to his maid, “I don’t know what I want, but I want it now.” This itch is slowly transitioning to discontent accompanied by an urge to move off the sofa and…and what?

 

OK, let’s start with a walk, for real. Get dressed.
I’m blessed to live across the street from a peaceful salt marsh with an alluring nature trail. The fresh air is less like a slap in the face than I initially feared, and more like a gentle loving caress that’s invigorating. I love the movement of the reeds that are taller than I am, the crunch of the gravel under my feet and the birds chirping as if they are talking. What could they be saying? Maybe they are talking to me saying, “Welcome back. We’re glad you gave yourself time to be sad; it’s like hibernating to regroup and ready yourself for the next step of the journey. We’re glad you trusted yourself to just do nothing. Nothing is like emptying the garbage, now you have room for whatever you want. The world is your oyster, and you can find them over there by the creek.” Feeling given to but abruptly dismissed, I went over to the creek where the oysters were sunning themselves near the water. Their wisdom was enlightening. “We don’t know why you get upset over sadness. Emotions are like the tides, they come, and they go. It’s what’s inside those counts. Some of us have a pearl inside and some just have pearls of wisdom, but here we all are enjoying the sun together.”
Sadness validated, like I just had a vacation, I felt my sadness, let it pass and now I’m feeling inspired to start a new day.