I am happy to say that I have officially returned from my hiatus. I thought it would be nice to take a break from things and sort through the nastiness going on in my head, but sadly that wasn’t the case. I think it was just because I missed you guys so much. Whatever it may be, I’m back now. I’m going to try not to make every post a sad rant about how meaningless life is because no one wants to read that and I certainly don’t want to be writing that. Therefore, I’m going to just pretend I feel better in hopes that eventually I will be better. Fake it til you make it, eh?
I actually tried a couple times earlier at writing a proper uplifting and inspiring post, as I had promised, but I ended up deleting them. I try to be as open and honest on here as possible. (I do tend to exaggerate a bit, but in an honest way.) However, these posts did not feel honest. I don’t think anything can be truly inspiring if it isn’t real. This goes with every form of writing. Even if it’s some random fairy tale, the underlying premise has to come from a place of honesty. These posts did not come from a place of honesty. They came from my desperation at trying to come up with something uplifting when I just felt awful about everything and my apathy toward life had the better of me.
So clearly writing that awesome post I had promised isn’t going to be easy, but the season has changed, and fall is here. I’m sitting by a window in the library with a flannel shirt on, watching the rust, burnt orange, goldenrod, and umber-colored leaves sway to and fro as they glide to the sidewalk. All of the people walking beneath my window are wearing scarves and hoodies. There is a couple holding hands.
It’s still early in the season, so not all of the leaves have fallen yet. Every tree is speckled with varying warm hues, some a little barer than others. I’m not sure why fall is so comforting when it symbolizes old age and approaching death.
Maybe it’s just how beautiful the colors are, but I think it’s more than that. The colors remind us that death is a part of life, that everything is going to end, and that that is okay. It’s okay that there aren’t happy, picture-book endings. It’s okay that there is sadness and suffering. The trees themselves aren’t dying. They are in mourning. They still live. Their cells still replicate, their tissues still develop, and their metabolic activity doesn’t completely cease. They will continue to grow after the winter has passed.
Grief is built into the life cycle. It is an unavoidable emotion that all humans feel. We developed it evolutionarily in order to communicate and connect with others. Sadness, anger, and fear are inevitable and necessary. You need them in order to understand yourself, interact with others, make changes, and fully appreciate the good feelings. The most important thing is just to feel. You can’t feel good all the time, but whether it is good or bad, always try to feel something, and feel it as wholly and authentically as you possibly can. This is what it takes to really be alive. As Andrew Solomon said, “The opposite of depression isn’t happiness, but vitality.” Depression isn’t grief. Depression is a slower form of dying.
My point is that we shouldn’t be put off by sadness. While it is not a nice feeling to have, it is perfectly normal and natural to feel it, and it makes us more whole. We should be put off by apathy, callousness, and numbness. Sometimes these are easier to deal with because they don’t involve pain, and perhaps they are good as short-term solutions. However, chronic apathy will only damage your psyche. It won’t help you with what you’re dealing with. It will gradually make you feel less human and more robotic. In this way, you can never be satisfied from life, and you can never be at peace with yourself.
So next time you feel sadness overtake you, don’t flip the switch to “off,” no matter how tempting it is. Take a moment, close your eyes, and just let the sadness wash over you. Feel this sadness as strongly and as purely as you possibly can.