Pain and joy, sadness and delight, dark days and seeing the light lie so close to each other. Have you ever found yourself laughing at something joyful and suddenly tears are streaming down your face?
Many days I struggle with sadness, loss of something I hoped for but did not happen, a relationship that ends even when there was so much good in it, accepting the limitations of the body. Joy feels very far away in those moments. The last thing I want to hear is that I can “choose”to move through it and feel happy. Why do I resist that when happiness feels so much better?
“Some of us can box ourselves into ways of looking at the world which prevent us from choosing gladness, even though we could. We’ve developed a habit of privileging melancholy.” So says my friend, Guy Sayles, an amazing writer and mentor.
This does not apply when we suffer from addictions or clinical depression. These are times when real choice may not be available to us. But, at times in the “ordinariness” of our lives, we truly can choose. Eudora Welty says in her story, The Wide Net, “The excursion is the same when you go looking for your sorrow as when you go looking for your joy.”
This is hard for me some days. As much as I am ashamed to admit it, I rather like melancholy. It can feel like an old friend…perhaps it’s the Irish in me? It gives me the tools of my trade, words for writing and inspiring and yet, it robs me of the joy that life offers.
Today, tomorrow, or one day when it feels like something worth trying, allow yourself to feel the melancholy, but don’t let it take up residence. Joy is a far better roommate.