Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Grief And Joy

The difference between grief and joy is what we do with them.  Grief we push away.  Joy we try to hold on to.  When we refuse our grief, it stays.  When we try to control our joy, it leaves.  That’s the way these processes are.
-Ann Wilson Schaef
I have not experienced a lot of grief in my life.  Yes, people have died in my life but for most of them it was their time and I was able to accept it.  A big exception to this was the death of a dear friend a few years ago that was both sudden and unexpected.  I am still grieving that loss.  Of course, grief is about more than accepting and dealing with the deaths of people.  There are many kinds of losses in our lives.  It could be the end of a relationship or a job.  In some ways I have lost my children because they are now adults with lives of their own.  They are no longer the little boys who used to fight with me and beat me up in the middle of my living room floor.  I have also lost my youth and must accept that I am not the man I was at age thirty.  On a positive note I think I am a better man although one with considerably less physical abilities.  I have been blessed to experience more joy in my life than sorrow.  The temptation of joy is the desire to re-create the situation that gave us joy.  I am thinking of a past solitary moment, early on a cool autumn morning, when I sat on the side of a hill, while the sun rose over a lake and the light was shining through the trees and burning the mist from the lake’s surface.  It was one of my contemplative, Zen moments and I experienced what some psychologists call “flow.”  This is the experience of being so in the moment that you transcend time and space and are truly in the now.  On a different day I could plan such a moment and feel nothing.  The joy of the initial experience was a gift, not a reward.  I did nothing to earn it.  It just happened.  Does this make sense?  As people we are deeply emotional beings whether we realize it or not.  Some of us embrace our feelings while others of us repress them.  I tend to do a little of both.  It’s easy to embrace joy or love but I tend to repress feelings like anger.  Sooner or later repressed feelings will make themselves known.  Often they show up as physical ailments like headaches or depression.  I guess my advice would be to feel your feelings.  It’s wonderful to jump for joy but it’s also OK to feel angry once in a while.  It’s all about balance.  I’m not sure it’s possible to be happy, joyful, and upbeat every minute of the day.  To be honest, people like that wear me out.  However, if you are angry and negative all the time, you might want to work on that.  It’s not normal or healthy.       

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