Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Ride the Pendulum

Unlike a number of my high school classmates, I never went through a "dark" phase. I've always preferred metaphorical sunshine and roses—why can't we talk about something more pleasant?
Some gals noted that, depending on the English teacher, all they had to do was spin the most miserable yarn possible to score a good grade. Apparently, while lacking black lipstick, there are educators who should be classified as goth. 

In response to the question "Which subjects are underrepresented in contemporary fiction?", Ayana Mathis replies: Joy. 

Authors do err, she says, in believing that the only true and real expression of the human experience is Dickensian (I avoid his work, even film adaptations, like the plague). Life is composed not of one extreme, but of both, and everything in between. Queen Elizabeth II said, "Grief is the price we pay for love"—one cannot grieve unless one has known love.

Mathis quotes Thomas Aquinas: "Joy and sorrow proceed from love, but in contrary ways." Same premise. 
Joy, it must be remembered, is nothing like happiness, its milquetoast cousin. It is instead a vivid and extreme state of being, often arrived at in the aftermath of great pain. 
I'm gonna Brené you—again: Many attempt to numb pain (with alcohol, drugs, food), without realizing that it is impossible to selectively numb emotion. If you numb the sadness, you will also numb the joy. You can't have one without the other.

A date once asked, "Are you a Buddhist?" because of my interest in yoga and Eastern medicine. I responded: "No. Buddhists believe life is all about suffering; I don't." (Okay okay, don't get technical with me, I know Buddhism doesn't quite work like that, but "suffering" is its go-to word.) 

I don't ignore the sadness, yet I do not find anything noble in unnecessarily wallowing in it. If it comes my way, and cannot be avoided, I shall acknowledge it to the best of my ability. Because unless I learn how to sit in discomfort, only then can I savor moments of bliss.   


rosesarered said...

Not to get technical, but that's why you're not Buddhist? I can think of better reasons, for starters its rejection of a Creator.

I enjoyed this post - like all your others - very much. I just felt compelled to respond to the line that made me splutter my coffee in horror.

Princess Lea said...

I think it would be obvious whilst on a shidduch date that I am not an card-carrying Buddhist. He was not accusing me of being oveid ovodah zarah because I'm occasionally in tree pose.