The Blessings of Sorrow

It’s been way over half a year since I last posted! No promises that I’ll suddenly start a blogging habit or whatnot, but I thought that at the very least, I ought to come back and sweep the writing mat clean.

Over the past half a year or so I’ve had a very tumultous change in lifestyle, general goals, and relationships. Some things have happened that may have left scars which will take ages to heal. Other things have happened that have made me joyous beyond fair belief. But life has been settling down recently, and so it’s probably time to dedicate myself to the arts once again; or at least, experiment and see what fits for now!

One thing that hasn’t changed though, is that I still have the full capacity for feeling sad; for falling down on my knees and weeping; for letting the harder things in life get to me; for being me. What has slowly grown overtime, I find, is my ability to take the palette of sad emotions as part of life’s enlivening colours. Perhaps like me, you may have also experienced that after the tears have fallen and the heart has been tenderly given its space to grieve, a whole new world of possibilities open up – together with a calm, clarity of vision.

A friend once told me about the valleys and mountains of life: at times there are mountains, where we feel at the height of our being; happy, unstoppable, brilliant and fully lovable. At other times we descend into inevitable valleys, wherein we feel completely horrible about ourselves, and those who have ever loved us were either sorely deluded, or fools. These valleys are opportunities to be humble, to take honest stock of our lives, and to see ourselves as we are.

But just as much as it is an impetus for returning to humility, I’ve found that it serves as a reminder – the highs and lows are both only temporal as much as they feel like overwhelming realities. Gladness fills my heart to the brim, and sorrow empties it completely; the world seems brighter, or conversely, entirely engulfed. Yet as time goes by, my heart rediscovers its gentle equilibrium; there will be days when I completely forget that sensations of such great ennervations have ever passed through my body at all. When I hold on to this truth in the midst of terrible sorrow, I realize that it is perfectly alright to let the wounds wound me, to let the sobs shake me – I will be alright in the end.

And furthermore, when the trembles are at its worst, there is a paradox to be found – the is a mountain in the midst of a valley. My internet-using, materially-comfortable, middle-class self is far removed from the basic threats and insecurities that plague those who are less privileged, but it is no less vulnerable to a broken heart, or misplaced expectations, or abuse of trust. Pain caused by this sort of rejections, even if only perceived rejections, is experientially equivalent to physical pain.

It will be disrespectful to equate my hurts with the hurts of those who suffer from a lack of food and water, or in the midst of war. But through the depths of terrible emotional pain, I am privileged to be connected to those who hurt, to those whose pain may not be as temporal as mine. My heart is opened to the common human experience. In my safe shelter, I am brought low, made as insecure as those who are shelterless, without a home. And in this lowness, the height of compassion is experienced. I am made aware of how trivial my hurts are, and I learn to accept my frailty with self-compassion. I am awakened to the common sufferings of man, and I learn to be thankful for the depth of my experience. And most of all, I am united with those who hurt greater than I do, whose pains are not temporal, who wake up to an uncertain tomorrow – and my heart is galvanized to right injustice.

All these are the blessings of sorrow (not to mention, of course, artistic insight and so on and so forth hehe). But it pays to be reminded that the One who giveth and taketh away giveth as much during sorrows as during joys – an open heart always has much to receive!


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