The Gift of Sadness


Sadness is quiet and humble. It detains each moment so that reality becomes vivid and clear. In its wake, we become slow-motion versions of who we believe ourselves to be, and, in these newly elongated quantities of time, space is created between the heart and the mind. The mind becomes gentle and the heart becomes gentle. One no longer dictates the other.

Our first instinct is to escape all levels of sadness, to smooth it over with distractions and chemical antidotes. When we do this to ourselves, though, the space created by the moment quickly fills with detritus from the past. The mind becomes confused. The heart becomes desperate. We become locked in memory, and our suffering is perpetuated. We repeatedly cycle through our beliefs about what we could have done differently. We hope for another chance; to do what, we don't know. We dread any future that is built upon our sadness. We believe we are being punished, that our current state is proof that we deserve any loss we may have incurred. Life around us becomes a threat, because it always has the potential to remind us of the sadness we work so hard to hide. We believe our sadness is the cause of our pain.


We fear that, if we remain still in the slowed down version of time that sadness offers, we will guarantee permanent suffering. We believe running will keep the truth at bay, that it will allow everything to remain the same as it once was. We forget that, just as the impermanence of change has triggered our present pain, impermanence will also heal it.


When we run from sadness, we intentionally deny the truth in front of us. As such, we prematurely speed up time within the space between heart and mind, creating an alternate reality that does not jive with where we are actually meant to go. We try to walk fast through the mud, when careful plodding is the only option. We become like caged hamsters on a wheel. We can't understand that we are running from ourselves.


If we allow the stillness, however, if we stop running on the wheel of memory, the space of sadness will begin to drain itself of excuses and escapism and become truly empty. The memories that once filled it will begin to dissolve into hope. Our sadness will show us the parts of ourselves that have remained raw and bloody due our long histories of deflection and denial. We will look at the material nature of the wound, the sinews and veins of the past that were re-opened by whatever incident triggered this current bout of suffering, and we will coat it in a healing balm of acceptance. If we allow it to, quiet inactivity in moments of sorrow will release us from our memories so that they no longer hold us captive, but instead fill us with gratitude that we are able to lose anything at all. Sadness shows us what we have, not what we have lost.


When we dare to ask the space of sadness what comes next, when we allow the emptiness to surround us, we meet not a void but a place of potential. We begin to understand that our loss created new life within us. When we stop running, life around us becomes neutral, and neutrality is peace. We have no attachment to outcome, and no expectation left to remain unfulfilled.


Sadness is not the cause of our pain. It is the love within us, making itself known in times of change so that we can appreciate that we are alive.