Why are you sad?
These days I am having a hard time keeping my mind still. So many distractions, fears, worries, tweets – all striving for the seats in the front row of my mind. They are not the thoughts I want, but they are the usual suspects, and they are seemingly always there. And their message? GLOOM and DOOM, baby. Nothing but gloom and doom.
The ones I want? Those thoughts filled with hope, inspiration and love? They are always there too, though much quieter, and usually relegated to the background. Which is perhaps why meditation is so valuable, it just occurred to me. The constancy of love is always waiting patiently behind the fears and the worries. When we get quiet, that is when we can find the way to the quiet voices in the back. It is a sensitive but formidable force, love.
A friend recently asked me via text message, why I’m so sad. He said he’d only known me melancholy and wondered what I’m sad about. Why am I so sad? I have been struggling with the answer for days.
I admit. At first I was infuriated.
How dare he?
Then I felt ashamed.
How dare I?
How dare I infect this troubled world with my sadness.
That’s not the ‘legacy’ I want to leave behind. I don’t want people to remember me by how sad I was. Yes, I’m sensitive. I often cry and feel the weight of the world, like so many of us do…but I don’t want to be remembered that way.
Why am I so sad?
Maybe it’s because the world is broken and it hurts me to see so much suffering. Maybe it’s because I gave the bullies in my mind a front row seat so often that they are rooted there. Maybe it’s because there are bullies in charge and they want to destroy society. Maybe it’s because I still miss my husband. Maybe it’s just what I learned at a young age because of rape and abuse. Maybe I still have a medical condition (bipolar) that needs treatment. Maybe it’s habit. Maybe this friend pushes my buttons so much so that I have learned to just not be well around him so as to avoid the uncomfortable confrontation, and in the handful of times we have been in each other’s company, he has never seen me truly happy, only guarded.
Maybe it’s all of these things and none of these things.
I have a predisposition towards melancholy. I have a fondness for nostalgia. I feel out of place in this time and space. I’ve often longed for a time and place that may have never existed, but I can find it in my dreams, and that tends to come out in my art.
I think his question and my impulse to answer it suggests a power over the melancholy, the power and ability to choose thoughts from the back row, from the well of love instead of the loudest and brashest of voices. There is value in that, for sure. Choose your thoughts wisely, become aware of the stories you tell yourself. Someone (or somethings) are weaving the story of your life – it might as well be you.
So, would I choose melancholy? Sometimes, yeah, I would.
It’s comfortable, familiar and quite beautiful. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Sometimes I choose joy.
And sometimes (oftentimes), I feel like I have no choice at all.
This is all part of the life I am living.
I manage my sadness in many ways, and remembering that I can choose a slightly different voice is helpful. Sometimes.