I’m sad. Don’t try to cheer me up — it won’t work. The sadness will run its course and then I won’t be sad anymore. It has to run its course because that’s how sadness works.
Why I’m sad doesn’t really matter. Most likely, it has something to do with blindness, with grieving a loss. It’s not self-pity and it’s not depression — as a social worker, I’ve studied the difference; as a human, I’ve felt the difference.
Enlightened Renaissance thinkers called sadness melancholia. They regarded it as a necessary part of life. They honored it in song and word. The Book of Ecclesiastes talks of a season for everything — joy and sorrow, birth and death.
We moderns misunderstand sadness. We treat it as an aberration —“Don’t be sad.” We fear it is contagious — “Don’t bring me down.” We self-medicate — “Just a pinch to ease the pain.” We try to cheer ourselves up — “Oh, “Look on the bright side.” We deny it — “It’s not as bad as all that.”
I write about coping with blindness. I try to be honest. I honestly think that blindness can be enriching and it can be a pain in the ass. I write about being told I’m an inspiration when I don’t feel inspired; about needing to educate when I don’t feel like teaching. As I write this blog, I feel sad, so that’s what I’m writing about. When I wrote my last blog, I didn’t feel sad; next time, I’ll likely feel different than I feel today.
This weekend, a new movie called Inside Out grossed $91 million at the box office. It’s an animated film about sadness. It’s main character is an eleven year-old girl who is sad because her family moved across the country. The lesson is that sadness is natural and necessary and needs to run its course before integration and growth can resume. I figure that, if a movie can make $91 million, I’d throw in my two cents’ worth.