Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sad tonight

For no particular reason.

In fact, things are going really well in my life. I got a lot of work done today. I've been eating more fruits and vegetables. I got into grad school. (Though still waiting to hear back from two more schools). I've been making important strides in learning how to trust more deeply in one of my closest friendships, which has been an incredibly rich experience.

Everything is great.

The air smells like honey. For real. I live in a place where the sun shines and it's usually 60-70 degrees out and the air smells like honey.

And I am sad.

Don't get me wrong, these things are not unimportant; they actually make a huge difference for me. I'm just noticing one of those moments where...the sadness is just there.

Perhaps a few months ago I was talking to my therapist about feeling sad. He asked me to describe what it felt like in my body. I said, it's here, in my chest, sort of like a ball, made up of lots of individual strings going every which way, all tangled together. He said, that is grief.

Tonight it does not feel quite like that; tonight it is in my chest, and also in my head, in my eyes that want to cry. Tonight it has less of a shape, more like an infusion in my flesh. Tonight it feels dark blue; it is not made up of strings but is of a smoother quality. But it is still grief.

Have I shared with you all the poem by Rumi, the Guest House? If so, oh well; it bears repeating:

This being human is a guest house,
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

I try to let whatever comes, come. When I realized I felt sad tonight, my first reaction was to feel sad *about* feeling sad. I am not nearly as depressed as I used to be, but I still get tired of it, and I think perhaps view sadness as some sort of failure on my part, as if I were shamefully dwelling on misery.

Did I inadvertently invite this sadness? Perhaps it does not even matter; the sadness is here, and is my guest. I don't necessarily believe the part about the guest being a guide from beyond, because I don't necessarily believe in beyond. But I know it is important nonetheless. My ability to grieve is the very essence of my humanity. If I lose the ability to feel sad when I see something bad happens to something good in the world (including to myself), what is left? What do I value? How can I feel joy, how can I appreciate beauty, how can I live a life of love, if I care not when harm occurs?

What do I grieve for tonight? Perhaps....for the years of loneliness I survived. It has been a topic on my mind recently, and perhaps tonight's sadness comes as I try to understand what exactly it was I endured. Or perhaps, the sadness has to do with how *hard* it is for me to love myself; always, that is on my mind.

Ah, I see: I am sad because I am afraid that my past will predict my future; I am afraid that I will go back, that I will be alone again. Back to being numb. Back to being unable, overwhelmed; unable to find my way in this world when it becomes so gray.

My best friend has deep faith that I will not go back. I am going to try to trust him.

Is that a flicker of hope I detect? Heaven forbid I let it grow into a flame and risk disappointment! :P

To feel grief is to tap into the very heart of what makes me alive. But also, to feel joy is to tap into the very heart of what makes me alive. Joy, I have found, is often much harder for me to access than pain. Yet, I felt great joy for the first time in a long time a few days ago, playing Beethoven in orchestra rehearsal.

I have been learning how to feel desire again; I have been learning how to feel excitement again; perhaps, even, I will learn how to hope again.


  1. sending you warm beautiful hearts of sunshine and love. Congrats on grad school. I so identify with loneliness and the fear of lonelienss. sometimes, they feel incredibly much like the same thing. but alas, remember, they are not. xo

  2. Thanks my dear. :) I miss you!!!

  3. That's a beautiful poem, Kate. Sometimes I experience feelings of inexplicable sadness too, and wonder what on earth is going on because I'm already fortunate in so many ways...our feelings are like the weather, aren't they? Clouds, rain, and sunshine just come and go as they please.

  4. Yes indeed, and who can fight the weather? haha