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February 12, 2024

The Tao of Tears: Embracing the Beauty of Sadness.

It’s raining today.

I’m shaking off a disrespectful cold and itching to feel the safety of being inside my body as once again my cloak of perceived comfort has disappeared without warning or reason.

I open my phone, bombarded with various traumas on every spectrum and of every variation. Armageddon’s algorithm. Spaced out, I quickly panic, thinking I’ve missed some sort of responsibility with work because it’s awards season and every moment leading up to today has been supercharged chaos.

I open and close my phone again, the perpetual unconscious interactions I have with it are genuinely alarming—“especially for a ‘seasoned yogi’ with ‘conscious awareness’”—I think, as I try not to punish myself, unsuccessfully.

Some days are like this; the world trembles on while in isolation my heart beats as loud and hard as though I’m trying to make my escape through lion territory in the Serengeti. I wish I could stop and the world could stop with me. If everything could just pause for one minute, and we could all just inhale, exhale. Breathe. United for just one minute, no thoughts, no movement, no fear being left behind, or worse.

To find some inspiration, a different feeling, I look over some poetry and essays written in my yester-years. I scroll through written memories created by an abundance of love versus a void of love expressed by pain. The inescapable duality of life in this dimension played out in art, imitating life, a continuous and symbiotic relationship. Convince me otherwise that the most penetrating art humanity has created has been channeled through devastating grief? Not possible. Play for me the greatest love songs of the past 100 years and I will show you an archive of misery and longing—in the most beautiful sense. The part of the soul that identifies with the emotion of another’s is an unfiltered expression of the human soul in unity.

Perhaps, then, grief is the great connector—a bridge between souls that transcends isolation.

Alone in our aloneness, the ego is convincing that this sadness bestowed upon me is exclusive to my one person party. Grief, in whatever sense, in its raw authenticity, holds the power to unite us in our vulnerability and shared experiences, serving as a testament to the interconnectedness of the human experience. Yet, even if we are all connected through this universal emotion, that sentiment hardly strikes a cord of inspiration in the midst of a mild to severe existential catastrophe.

Why do I feel this way when nothing is “wrong” in my life? I reflect on the impact and cause of universal sadness; I acknowledge the limitations of healing within the current state of the world. The pervasive pain extends beyond the individual, delving into the depths that many proponents of “love and light” discourse hesitate to explore. We exist in a world under the scrutiny of an intrusive surveillance apparatus, where power dynamics are sickeningly skewed and justice often yields to the whims of the privileged few. We exist among others in this disconcerting reality, we will be heartbroken, we will experience the death of our loved ones, and so healing becomes a complex journey intertwined with things outside ourselves. But this isn’t an essay on revolting against society, ending heartbreak, or stopping death; it’s an essay on accepting, maybe even celebrating, our sadness.

By acknowledging who benefits from our blues we can unify in the sentiment that our unexplained sadness does not equate to failure, something in which we’ve been all convinced otherwise by society. The tiny flame of melancholy in between our feelings of joy, can it ever be extinguished? Or is it here to stay? It’s a profitable flame for industries to collect on. One that tells us that our sadness is a shameful problem and will be fixed once you accomplish x, y, z, keeping us in a cycle of consumption while keeping us unsettled and unaccepting of the unavoidable. Let’s stop feeling shame and guilt for this inevitable, beautiful emotion, and find hope and solace that tomorrow brings another opportunity to feel joy. That commitment to the future is everything after all.

In the midst of my own desolation, I find refuge in celebrating the absurdity of being alive. I dance with my pessimism and rejoice in my nihilism. Nothing matters and we are all going to die! Through that meaningless I find freedom because it is the truth and yet I feel nothing matters more than our short, little existence on earth. There are aspects of life I can change and then there are lessons in how to surrender to those I cannot. I chuck my ego at the door along with its suffering and I make the decision to enjoy my misery because this temporary madness is a gift, and there will come a day when my earthly emotions are no more.

The rain outside persists, a testament to the unpredictable nature of existence. In the embrace of both the light and the shadows, finding beauty in the unity of contradictions that define the human experience. Embracing sadness, then, becomes not a surrender to despair but a courageous act of embracing the full spectrum of human emotion. In acknowledging the intrinsic value of sadness, we liberate ourselves from the confines of societal expectations while celebrating it as a catalyst for personal growth and understanding of how much and how deeply we have loved.

~

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