My title doesn’t sound at all uplifting, and you may want to stop reading right here, but lately I have been thinking a lot about sadness. Why? Why would I fill my brain with that? It’s not what we do in America these days. We say “Fine,” or “Great,” when asked how we are. If something is hard in our lives, we downplay it with phrases like, “It’s all good.” But sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes the bravest thing we can say is, “I’m a little low,” or ” Not so great,” when asked “How are you?” I’m not suggesting we wear it all on our sleeves, or that we bring down those around us. But, I am thinking- how do we live with and through sad times? How do we honor sadness while working beyond it?
My peers and I are all at that age where we are “in the thick of it.” (One could argue that most stages/phases of life could be characterized that way.) Most of us have teenage or college age children and aging parents. The demands on our hearts, our time and our wallets are constant, the emotional roller coaster is a given. Marriages falter, the nest empties, parents become ill, sometimes spouses are diagnosed with things that cannot be cured, the bills mount, the teenagers yell, and so do I (we). The stakes feel incredibly high. Some mornings we want nothing more than to pull the covers up over our heads and declare defeat before the day has even begun.
My friends and I have lost siblings, spouses, parents, houses and jobs in the last year. I look around and need to take a deep breath when I think about all that is happening in this thing we call life.
And yet- and yet… I don’t really want to hide under the blankets. At least not for long. And so, I (we) get up, make the coffee and let the dog out, switch the laundry over and turn on the shower. And by the time I’ve dressed and dried my hair and applied a little makeup to my tired face, I am ready. Ready to go out and face this messy, hard reality that is life. Ready to laugh and cry, to listen and talk, to play and work, to teach and learn.
When I was in my late twenties I hit a big bump, and my mother said this to me, “Life is not always happy. But life has many happy moments.”
For more than twenty years her words have stuck with me. It’s true, and the effort to power through, to get out of bed and face the world, to regroup, try again, open my mind and heart- it’s worth it. Grief fades and softens. The peaks do become visible from the valleys, and I have the will and desire to get to there from here. Sadness is hard, but it isn’t forever. The laughing until tears are streaming down our faces… there is more of that in our futures.