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Saturday, December 5, 2009

I realize, after posting my poem on Sadness and its inspiration from the poet Giacomo Leopardi, that I probably should have also posted the first part that was a larger piece of writing. This reflection and the resultant poem are the culmination of a lot of reading and thinking I've been doing on the subject of Sadness. It has actually been a very happy time because of the answers I've been receiving.

Hugs to all on Blogland Lane. Your comments are dear to me.
Annie at 53A

St. Thomas Aquinas speaks of the Great Sadness, that fundamental characteristic of a life lived with awareness. When I first read these words, I was gripped with an understanding so deep, so intense, that I've now spent days unraveling the meaning and how these words relate to my own personal experience of sadness.

I grew up with a mother who suffered tremendous sadness in her early life and youth. I was too young to understand what this meant to me in my own youth and then I arrived at my own teen years wrapped in my own particular teen angst. But, with adulthood and by my late 20's, having suffered my own disappointments, I was firmly wrapped in layers of melancholy that were not just my own but also my mother's. Sadness and covering it up was my rule but what it all meant still needed to be learned.

A Life Lived With Awareness

Examining sadness - I learned that my experience cannot be compared to any other's. Comparison is a trap that blocks learning the value of one's own personal sadness. Comparison blinds you to solutions and a clear awareness of the life around you. Comparison leads to guilt; guilt leads to ineffectual action or even non-action.

For example; when I see a shabby person standing on a corner with a sign, do I think - druggy begger, wino, or loser, or do I ignore that person, or hand out an impersonal dollar bill, or worse - change the direction of my car thereby making them completely invisible?

Can I feel sadness, true sadness, and really see the need in their eyes? Is there a solution I can reach for, a human touch I can offer? Can really seeing them go beyond the "me" (there but for the Grace of God) and reach the "I" that lives within me? Can touchng that "I" spark I call Christ bring me to a solution for the "man" on the corner?

Matt 25:35 led me to an answer, or rather my own experience of sadness, uncluttered by judgments, comparison, or guilt led me to my personal answer to the dilemma of the "man" on the corner. Matt 25:35 simply confirmed my answer.

This search for the understanding of sadness and its role in our lives can be applied to anything outside of ourselves that touches us in some way. Sadness is a positive experience as long as we don't allow ourselves to sink into melancholia or depression, then guilt, and perhaps ultimately despair and loss of hope. Our lives overflow with examples of events that induce sadness. How we view and deal with these events, based on our understanding of the source of our sadness, is what can lead us to remarkable and life-changing solutions. We may never know a life has been changed but each effective action we take towards a solution changes each of us for the better.


  1. I understand completely. Understanding sadness, without the attendant depression and melancholy, opened the world to me. Sadness is actually made me grow and learn.

    "How we view and deal with these events, based on our understanding of the source of our sadness, is what can lead us to remarkable and life-changing solutions." Absolutely.

    Thanks for this post, Annie.

  2. annie, i can say with certainty that i am a familiar guest of sadness from my job as an inner city psychotherapist. i see trauma and poverty in all its costumes, and i have to ground myself in order to know that what has and will happen may be sad, but it is also life affirming and vibrant. i am privileged to do this work.

    thank you for a most thoughtful essay. you are a good writer, an insightful observer.]


  3. Annie,

    I am so happy to see this larger piece of where you are.

    Honey, I was about to jump in the car and head north!

    One of these days, I will.

    xo ;)