One of my best friends dropped by this evening, with a tub of ice cream, and the movie Inside Out on his drive. I needed to consume both this weekend to feel better about… life. The movie, which offered a subtle lesson about the blues, was adorable, and poignant, and inspired me to write about the very thing that I have been trying to banish — sadness.
In the last one year, since my emotions boarded a roller-coaster owing to several stressful turns, I have been under immense pressure — the pressing need to be happy. The last few months taught me how underrated sadness is, and how we dole out step-motherly treatment to that hopeless emotion, only because of our incurable love for happiness. 😉
I often think that there is a beautiful glass jar in my head, and it is filled with memories, mostly sad ones. When I talk to friends about those sad memories, I tell them, “I wish I could pull those unpleasant memories, and drop them in The Pensieve (from Harry Potter), or snip them off like Mrs Hempstock in Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane.” I wish I could keep the jar filled only with warm memories. Like glittering fireflies in a jar. I harbour that dream, despite being fully aware that it’s idealistic, and futile. The dream stems from the pressure to be happy. Because, when I choose to be sad, I have to take a brave stab, and field several questions from everybody who loves me, and everybody who is plainly curious.
I try to be happy. Honestly. I don’t air my dirty laundry quite often these days, I talk about positive things, I do things that I love, and I genuinely try not to mope around. However, all the efforts evaporate when this thought surfaces — “Hey. You are trying too hard. And, you are not trying to be happy. Maybe, you are trying to escape.” Escape from what? Sadness. What would happen if I confront sadness? I would be depressed for a few days, before I could gather myself. What stops me from facing (let’s say embracing) sadness? The pressure to be happy!
Eeyore is my one of my favourite characters from Winnie-The-Pooh. The donkey is perennially melancholic, and as far as I remember, the other characters do not judge him. While they all try to cheer him up, they also accept him for what he is. Their sagacity amazes me. Why can’t one just choose to be sad? At least for a little while?
My questions, and answers met when I meditated about Inside Out. Happiness is beautiful. There cannot be another opinion about it. But, sadness is necessary. One has to face it, hug it, cry with it, and leave it behind. If not, it’s going to make life miserable, and trick one into thinking that one’s effort to be happy is pointless. So, I am reminding myself; it’s absolutely okay to be sad, to shed buckets of tears, empty tons of tissue-boxes, and be prepared to wake up with vigour next day. It’s absolutely okay to not dress up, not change hairstyle, not shape eyebrows, not wear matching footwear, not shave armpits, not go to a wedding… It’s absolutely okay to stay in the bed, binge movies and food, stalk folks on Internet, and cry myself to sleep. It’s really okay.
Sadness is necessary, but I am thankful that it is also transient. It will pass off, provided that I let it stay with me for a while. The more I dread it, try to run away from it, or try hard to bury it, I am making it more powerful. Every once in a while, it’s okay to choose sadness over the pressure to be happy. Like really.
Also, I am reminding myself not to expect others to brim with hope, and happiness all the time. When we are all a melange of chemicals, it’s unfair to expect one to be contagiously happy. While I am not romanticising sorrow, I reckon that sadness should be recognised. It deserves that wee bit of attention. 🙂
“You go on by doing the best you can. You go on by being generous. You go on by being true. You go on by offering comfort to others who can’t go on. You go on by allowing the unbearable days to pass and allowing the pleasure in other days. You go on by finding a channel for your love and another for your rage.”
— ‘Tiny Beautiful Things’ by Cheryl Strayed
“We worried when the sun sank into the sky. Then darkness illuminated the stars, as only darkness can, and we lay in dirt, gazing at the splendor and immortality above.”
— ‘The Blue Between Sky and Water’ by Susan Abulhawa