Monday, June 20, 2011

Not an easy road

The mama deer who's been hanging around our yard this spring brought her two fawns over to graze yesterday.  It seemed doubly appropriate, as one of my own fawns came home to graze yesterday, in honor of Fathers' Day.

She did a lovely job of staying upbeat for the occasion, but there's no doubt that she's in the midst of a very difficult transition, and after she left I found myself awash in waves of sadness and wondering if it would have been better to give her space to express her true feelings.

So of course my reading this morning, in John Wellman's Toward a Psychology of Awakening, is totally relevant:

"What is sadness?  The word sad is related etymologically to satisfied and sated, meaning full.  so in sadness there is a fullness of heart, a fullness of feeling in response to being touched by the sweet, tranistory, ungraspable quality of human existence.

This empty fullness is one of the most significant of human experiences.  The poignancy of not knowing who we are and not being able to hold on to or control our quickly passing life connects us with the vastness and depth of the living heart.  It invites us to let go of the fixed reference points we use to prop ourselves up.  If we judge or reject this sadness, then its vital intelligence congeals into the heaviness of depression.  In overlooking the opportunity that sadness provides for touching and awakening the heart, we quite literally lose heart.

... Depression starts creeping up on us the moment we imagine there is something wrong with us because we cannot keep pain at bay, because we feel vulnerable or sad, because we cannot rest on our laurels, because we do not achieve total fulfillment through work, relationships, or any other finite worldly arrangement, or because we sense the hollowness of our self-created identity.  If we were to look more deeply into any of these experiences, it could help us awaken to the essential openness of our nature, which is the only real source of happiness and joy.  But depression takes a different route -- blaming and recriminating when we cannot control reality.  And this inevitably shuts down our capacity to respond and feel grateful for the beauty of life just as it is.  

Emptiness need not be depressing.  For it is what allows life to keep creating and recreating itself anew in each moment.  And this makes creativity, expansiveness, growth, and real wisdom possible."

But of course it's often easier to blame ourselves and the world, or to stuff the sadness down, than it is to feel those raw feelings.  It's just that the easy road is rarely the road to health and growth, to finding our calling or effecting positive change...



Maureen said...

After reading this quote, I don't think I'll ever think of sadness in quite the same way again.

Kimberly Mason said...

Wow. I know what you say is true, it has been a focus of mine for a while now and I have become more comfortable with the sadness, knowing that the emptiness opens up a space and allows something new to enter and brings growth and an ever increasing understanding.

But when it is your own fawn? That's hard.

My baby boy called me today after a fight with his sister (they're roommates). She told him to find a new place to live. He tried to talk about the issue without emotion, but it choked him up until the tears spilled out in his words. He said, "I guess I'm coming home, Mommy. I love you."

My first instinct was to jump in to save everyone any pain -- as if I really could. But somehow I was able to quiet my own anxiety and pain and just sit with him for a while.

I wish my mother had taught me to be comfortable with my own pain, but I realize now that she couldn't give me what she didn't have for herself. I hope I can help my son to find peace ... but if I can't, then I hope I have the strength to wait with him through the pain.

Thank you for helping me to do that. You are true to your blog motto. You help me to turn to the peaceful and compassionate center within and find strength.

Gaye said...

Having felt trapped in sadness since my Dad died eight months ago and particularly this weekend it surely is a releif to be shown another perspective. My grateful thanks.

Louise Gallagher said...

I'm with Maureen.

And your mama and baby fawns are sooo cute!