I’ve been thinking about sorrow today.
Sounds a bit bleak, I know, but actually, it’s not.
What started me on this line of thought was three comments about sorrow in a row that were all more or less the same.
The first one occurred in a book. Man Crazy by Joyce Carol Oates. I love me some Joyce Carol Oates. Her stories are so real. Her characters are people I really know.
One of the characters in Man Crazy asked, rather profoundly:
‘Do people make their own sorrow?’
I have been thinking about that for days. I think many people do create situations that cause them sorrow, maybe inadvertently, but they create the situations nonetheless. For me, the situations that have caused me the most sorrow are the ones where I haven’t believed in myself enough to make a stand and change things. I’ve put up with things I shouldn’t. Difficult people. Difficult circumstances. Compromises that serve no purpose other than to assist the game player in his or her game-playing. Not being true to myself has caused me more sorrow than births, deaths or natural disasters ever could.
The second comment came from Rosemary, a lady I speak to occasionally in the park. She is in her late sixties and visits the park to sketch the local flora and fauna. She is a gifted artist, does those proper botanical drawings that you see in academic journals.
We were talking about the economic crisis and she said she felt most people had contributed even in a small way to the crisis by putting pressure on themselves to live a lifestyle dictated to them by the media. She believes people in modern society look too often to external factors to find happiness when happiness is so much more easily found within themselves.
‘Filling their lives with things they can’t really have makes people sorrowful,’ she said. ‘Until they are happy with themselves, the things will never be enough.’
Wow Rosemary. Way to knock me for six.
The third comment came from my friend, Gina, who is going through a bit of a divorce. I say a bit because it’s one of those divorces that takes one step forward then another back in the same breath. One problem is resolved then another immediately arises. Hearing about it is exhausting. I can’t imagine what Gina must be feeling. Exhausted, probably.
Anyway, Gina said she listened to that David Bowie song today. Sorrow. These are the lyrics –
‘With your long blonde hair and your eyes of blue
The only thing I ever got from you
It’s the only thing Gina believes she got from her husband. Sorrow.
‘Why do you say that?’ I asked.
‘Because I wasn’t me the whole time I was married. I was who he wanted me to be. I’ve lost myself and that makes me sorrowful.’
Wham. Bam. I feel like I have Carl Jung in the room with me blathering on about meaningful coincidences and synchronicity.
Is someone up there trying to tell me something?
Some days I would like to think it could never be possible for me to create an emotion, a state, as taut, as stick-still as sorrow. Instead I would simply like to walk as far away as I could. From myself.
I don’t want to listen to any more excuses as to why I can’t be happy just as I am. I want to go all new-agey, patchouli-burning, barefoot in the grass and say : ‘I am happy right now. Without the things I wish for. I own the moment.’
For surely if we can make our own sorrow, we can also make our own happiness.