It’s the end of February. It’s 75 degrees outside. The sun is shining. The breeze is light. I’m sitting on my upper deck watching turtles and ducks do what turtles and ducks do. And I’m trying to experience sadness.
I realize that’s an odd statement to make. If we don’t have to experience sadness why would we? What value is there in it? The problem I have with emotions (and I doubt I’m alone) is that while I often feel them, I rarely experience them. Feeling them can’t be helped. They sneak up on us like little ninjas and attached themselves to every thought and stimulus that comes our way. Experiencing them, I have learned these past few years is a whole other story.
We can suppress or delay or ignore or rationalize our emotions into oblivion.
In our minds we put the emotions in neat boxes with tight lids. Or maybe we shove them into a “drawer” so full of them we couldn’t tell them apart if we wanted to. We may try to manage them, but they still have an impact on our bodies. They still cause stress and anxiety. They still make it difficult to focus and concentrate. The still drain us of our energy reserves. We can manage the experience of emotions, but we can’t avoid the impact of emotions. However, if your like me, we have conditioned ourselves to avoid the experience of emotions to the point that we have to make an effort to find them.
Something happened that I am sad about. No one close to me died or is even about to (at least not that I’m aware of). It’s a basic issue of me not getting to see my plans for my life happen like I would have liked. I competed and lost; it happens. And while I am downplaying its significance, it is without a doubt something to be sad about. Tears have come and been pushed back. I’m been tempted to yell, at no one in particular, but I haven’t. I’ve distracted myself with work, with music, with meditation, (yes – now I’ve even blogged about it) – all my own tricks to avoid the experience of sadness. But I’m tired of that.
Sadness is my favorite character in the movie Inside Out. Not because I have a twisted, dark side – that still another discussion. Sadness is my favorite, (Spoiler alert: if you have seen the movie by now, I can’t help you. You know who you are!) because despite Joy being loud, present and mostly in charge, we learn that Joy doesn’t really exist without sadness. Moments of great joy often stand directly next to moments of intense sadness.
Why do I want to experience sadness? Because I strongly desire to experience joy again. Deep, intense, wrench your gut and drive tears from your eyes, joy. So let the sadness come. I’ll breathe through it. And I’ll look with great anticipation for the joy that will someday be on the other side.