Too much is made of happiness. The moment a less than desirable thought enters the mind and floods us with sadness, we shun it and try to push it back under the shuffle of the many willfully abandoned thoughts. We set about distracting ourselves with just about anything be it of little or no value to us, as long as we get to run and hide from what we have come to perceive as a harmful experience-feeling sad.
We go to a great many lengths to create ‘escapes’ that will allow us to forget about events that cause sadness. Yet, sadness persists from time to time in everyone’s life, no matter what. No distraction has proved to be the final escape out of feeling blue. Somehow unaddressed grief has a way of catching up.
Is feeling bad about feeling bad nothing more than a societal concept? Why has society drummed it into our heads that to be sad is something to be avoided like the plague?
The thought of being in happiness while accepting that sorrow might be around the corner, is inconceivable. When we are in a moment of delight, we rarely ever stop to think that this moment is no more than a fleeting phase and that life is in fact riddled with many such sorrowful and joyful phases. So much of our energy is spent engaging in an affray with our own consciousness in order to hold on to joy and repel sadness. Its not like sadness goes away by numbing ones senses with drugs or distracting behavior? It persists within us, regurgitating, boiling over at inopportune times. And struggling with trying to repress them does little else than feed more energy into a negative cycle.
The drug industry can proudly claim its raison d’etre to a large extent, is due to manufacturing ‘happy pills’. Granted there are medical conditions where these are needed, but for most of the human population to feel sadness from time to time is not an illness or something to shun, hide, cover up with plastic smiles or be afraid of.
Rumi in his ageless wisdom said, “This being human is a guest-house. Every morning a new arrival, a joy, a depression, a meanness…Welcome and entertain them all. Treat each guest honorably, he may be clearing you out for some new delight”
Why welcome unpleasantness? one would ask. Because in those moments of frightening aloneness, an aloneness of experience which another mortal cannot always share with us, are when the deep and rich lessons of life delivered. And like most lessons we learn, they are delivered with a sting, the sting of sadness. However, if one were to understand and internalize the fact that it is okay to be feeling the way one is, then courage learns to stem from that place of surrender. And distressing as it may seem to give in to that darkness, and allow those emotions to sweep over oneself, it is also the only way to release them from one’s life. Or else one continues to precipitate the never ending cycle of feeding into one’s own fear of succumbing to sadness, and creating ingenious ways to suppress a most natural human emotion.
Life is more than just joy. It has to be, or else it would be a one-dimensional experience and life is beautiful because of all its facets. It is in this turmoil, induced by one’s, at times frightening emotions, that growth occurs and the doorway to knowing oneself appears. But one must be prepared for all the good and bad that this journey will unveil. Because just as life can be light and darkness, so can human emotions.
As Rumi says: "Welcome each, for they will each teach something new."
Should it be any wonder that I subconsciously felt the urge to write this on the day of my father’s 14th death anniversary? I too am learning to be okay with sadness, and not suppress it, and respect that it has arrived to welcome a new lesson in my life. So I am going to sit with this guest and honor it and in that process allow myself to heal a little more.
Honoring Sadness by Tania Kazi
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