From an email I reeived: ”I have an incredible sadness that often can be quite overwhelming in my life. Does that ever go away? I’m really scared it won’t. I’m not depressed, because generally I’m happy enough- its when the emotions are just overwhelming, the loneliness etc blah blah blah- the usual things that break us all apart.
So, does it go away?”
I am sorry you are feeling sadness. I will tell you something. At one point i was addicted to an anti-anxiety drug. I was undergoing a lot of stress. But after awhile (2 years) I didn’t have the stress anymore. But I was now addicted to this drug. The drug was no longer helping me. But when I would try to get off the drug bad things would happen. I would survive maybe 2 or 3 days and then I would feel an incredible sadness that was out of my control. I would barely be able to function and the slightest thing would make me cry.
It’s not just because I was getting off the drug. It’s because, if you look for it, the world gives us plenty of opportunities to be sad. The world is a sad place. And if we fool ourselves into believing otherwise, Buddha is there to remind us with his rule #1: the world is full of suffering and there is no way to avoid it. At first I tried to avoid it with the anti-anxiety drug. But when I wasn’t anxious anymore and I wasn’t sad and I tried to get off the drug, I would notice everything in the world that was still sad. Still a cause of misery, the scent of death, the sulfuric taste of despair. I couldn’t shake it off my five senses. And I would sit in my livingroom and cry and think of other people who were sad and think of the beautiful hopelessness of everything.
There are solutions then. Not to get out of it, because the suffering is always there. But to understand its purpose. By sitting with it’s purpose, understanding it, assimilating it RIGHT NOW instead of disappearing into the past or the fearful future, one learns to live with it, to even rejoice in it.
The first solution is to talk to someone. Why are you feeling sad? Is there a reason. Talk to someone you trust. Talk to someone you are sincerely grateful they are in your life. Whether it’s a therapist, a friend, someone you love. Someone you barely know.
The second, of course, is medication. If there’s no reason to feel sad then perhaps some chemicals need to be put back in place, although hopefully in a non-addictive way.
The third is exercise, eating well, no alcohol, sleeping well, and meditation or yoga. All of which act as anti-depressants. As does socializing with friends, painting, being creative, etc. [See, 10 Unusual Ways to Release Oxytocin In Your Life]
The fourth is a trick. I do this trick because it’s what I personally believe. The universe is like a curious old man. It doesn’t know many things. Infinite things. We can’t even fathom what it knows and what it doesn’t know. it doesn’t know, for instance, the experience of “I am feeling sad”. So it takes a piece of itself and makes you, just like it makes me, just like it makes animals, and our neighbors, and our friends. We are bits and pieces the universe has breathed life into for but a moment in time. It wants to learn from us. It wants to learn what “James is feeling sad” is like so then it knows forever. And then in the blink of an eye, because that’s how long we live in the eyes of the universe, you and I and everyone we know are back in its pulsating heart, part of the universe once again, not even remembering that we ever left it.
But it’s learned one thing. The feeling of me feeling sad. That moment, that sadness, this moment right now with you reading my email: its not you learning, its the universe learning. Me typing this email is the universe learning. When I sleep tonight, the universe will dream. When I feel sad over a fight my daughter has with her friend, the universe will grieve but then rejoice because it’s learning so much. Then I can rejoice because every pain, every sadness, every moment, is ME, the universe manifest, learning something new. What a great thing that is!
At the end of all this is nothing but rejoicing. We are giving and giving because the universe takes it all in and then we return home to it. In fact, we never left it. We only did a little dance, so the universe can learn the steps.
All of these things will work. And none of them will work. Because at the end, we are part of a much bigger picture. And that picture has no boundary, no edge, the paint drips out of us, runs over the edge, and spills out into all of life.
For me, this is what I believe.