A Meditation on Sadness

There are so many things to be happy about, so many things to celebrate like the neighbor close by who, at this very moment, is improvising on a public piano. Or the emergence of spring and how it is as delightful as years before which begets a sense of familiarity and consistency and other kinds of necessary comfort.

Yet, in the presence of all this undeniable beauty, I am sad. Sad about things we all get sad about. Unfortunately, I’m sure you can fill in the blanks — loss, loneliness, etc, etc. There is no need to elaborate upon the why. But I will attempt to articulate the what. The what as in the gripping, the craving, the numbness, the ache. The what as in this sadness that I have inside.

It always starts in the throat, throbs its way to the belly, looms there and around. It is simultaneously empty and full. It is the heavy eyes, the nervous giggle, the restless tap, the cathartic sigh. It is the lonely evening drive. It is the surrounded afternoon. It is the long, long process of attempting to sleep, but not being able, so just laying tired and stuck and waiting. It is the crying. The crying in the car amidst the traffic, the crying in the stall amidst the near silent strangers, the crying in the produce aisle amidst the rosemary, amidst the asparagus, amidst the lemons, the crying at the dining table amidst the sundae-mouthed lovers. The crying and crying and crying.

Some days are easier though. Some days, the crying is substituted for laughter, the genuine and unstoppable kind that comes out of the body like a roar. It induces a swing of dopamine and momentarily alleviates this funk. On days like this, enchantment does not seem like some naive fairytale. Enchantment is a reality, the concert of bluebirds on my bedroom window, the smell of basil, of lavender, of lime, a reacquaintance with steady breath, the smile that I do not have to force. On days like this, I wake up at a decent time and take in the morning slowly. I remember the temple that is my body. I hold it gently and with gladness, as it so deserves. On days like this, sadness is not necessarily absent, it is just desaturated, less intense, more of a whisper in the back of my head than a yell in the forefront. But with sureness, the yelling comes back again and resettles itself. Enchantment, lost. The morning time, sluggish and without zeal. My body, just another in the middle of many. This is the coming and going of grief, the tug of war between melancholia and buoyancy, the grin-frown giggle-cry loop. This is the what I speak of. This is the sadness.

I tried to avoid it. I tried to laugh it away, eat it away, stop thinking about it in hopes that it might just go away. I tried to rationalize and rationalize as if it were just an equation I could solve. But grief is not a matter of a+b, grief is a matter of metaphysical things like healing and patience and time. This life is riddled with grief, grief of all kinds and magnitudes and shades. There is no point in avoiding it. There is no point in hiding or walking on eggshells. It knows no bounds, however, all is not lost, because neither does hope. Somehow, even grief can form an inner rainbow, a rainbow of such complicated, extraordinary light. In this light, we are violet and lilac. We are fuchsia and umber and olive. We are blue. We are red. We are even gold. Within this sadness, there is a kaleidoscopic reflection of aliveness inside of us. Which is not say that sadness defines being alive, rather that sadness is an aspect of confronting the complexities of being human. This realization does not eliminate the pain, but it is not meant to. It is only supposed to bring about the needed courage and awareness as we go through our grief and deeper, deeper, deeper into hope.