The Beauty of Sadness

"Lacrimosa" by Kara Castro

See all of Kara Castro's exquisite work on her website

[from the vault.....]

the Hyperion Chronicles
“Where there is sorrow, there is holy ground”

#279 The Beauty of Sadness

“Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean.
Tears from the depth of some divine despair
Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes,
In looking in on the happy autumn fields,
And thinking of the days that are no more.”
-Alfred Lord Tennyson

“The rose petal floats on the water. The kingfisher flashes above the pond. Life and beauty swirl in the midst of death.”
-a’Lan Mandragoran

“Sometimes to realize you were well, someone must come along and hurt you.”
-Perry Farrell

My mother and I like (some of) the same things. We both got addicted to “24” and “Alias,” we both tear through books like there is a prize at the end, and we both can watch our favorite movies over and over.

However, she always wants a happy ending. I? I like happy endings. There might have been something in my eye when Sam and Frodo locked eyes after their harrowing journey. When Harry and his friends emerge from the Chamber of Secrets unscathed I did a little happy dance, and when Monica proposed to Chandler; well, I clapped like a romantic dork.

But I also appreciate a sad ending. Sometimes, more than the happy ones. I’m told this is because I’m a depressive melancholy person. Maybe. I see value in sadness, though. Sometimes there is a beauty in sadness that is unsurpassed by anything happy or sweet.

I don’t think that makes me wrong, I think the culture is wrong. Think about the taste buds: we have four equally valid taste buds, but two of them are so denigrated that their very names, sour and bitter, are also synonyms with negative personality traits.

In much the same way, we have relegated “sadness” to a lesser emotion, one felt by someone not feeling right. I disagree with that. I think sadness is a necessary and beneficial part of our lives.

If for no other reason, it makes you appreciate the happiness you have. Without that texture, the contrasts between up and down, everything would begin to feel flat and blasé.

But more than that, I think there is a real beauty in sadness. I think sometimes the bittersweet life not lived, the chance not taken, the quest not quite succeeded gives us more insight and depth than the happily-ever-after-cue-sunset-and-music type endings we’re used to.

That’s why one of my favorite movies is “Casablanca;” the heart-breaking sadness of knowing that Elsa loves Rick, but must stay with Victor for the good of the fight. That’s why I love “Romeo and Juliet” and “Hamlet;” the frustration over these characters and their misguided struggles for love or vengeance, ending so pointlessly. To me, these things evoke deeper emotions than would any happy ending they could come up with.

And maybe that’s what I’m really lauding. I’m not afraid of emotion, as we all too often are in this world. I don’t mind feeling deeply. That’s partly why I love the old jazz and blues singers like Billie Holiday or Muddy Waters. Their lives never seem to do anything but suck, but they feel more real, more alive, in their sadness than any saccharinated pop ballad.

I’m not advocating a life of doom and gloom. The world is too desperate to go around always finding the negative in everything. However, I think we do a real disservice if we ignore this part of our God-given emotions. Sadness is a part of us, and shutting it away won’t help. Sometimes it’s good, to step back from our Prozac-world, and see the beauty of sadness.

February 18, 2004

Editing help from Tootsie and Koz

Motto Explanation
The motto is a quote from Oscar Wilde

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