The mama deer who's been hanging around our yard this spring brought her two fawns over to graze yesterday. It seemed doubly appropriate, as one of my own fawns came home to graze yesterday, in honor of Fathers' Day.
She did a lovely job of staying upbeat for the occasion, but there's no doubt that she's in the midst of a very difficult transition, and after she left I found myself awash in waves of sadness and wondering if it would have been better to give her space to express her true feelings.
So of course my reading this morning, in John Wellman's Toward a Psychology of Awakening, is totally relevant:
"What is sadness? The word sad is related etymologically to satisfied and sated, meaning full. so in sadness there is a fullness of heart, a fullness of feeling in response to being touched by the sweet, tranistory, ungraspable quality of human existence.
This empty fullness is one of the most significant of human experiences. The poignancy of not knowing who we are and not being able to hold on to or control our quickly passing life connects us with the vastness and depth of the living heart. It invites us to let go of the fixed reference points we use to prop ourselves up. If we judge or reject this sadness, then its vital intelligence congeals into the heaviness of depression. In overlooking the opportunity that sadness provides for touching and awakening the heart, we quite literally lose heart.
... Depression starts creeping up on us the moment we imagine there is something wrong with us because we cannot keep pain at bay, because we feel vulnerable or sad, because we cannot rest on our laurels, because we do not achieve total fulfillment through work, relationships, or any other finite worldly arrangement, or because we sense the hollowness of our self-created identity. If we were to look more deeply into any of these experiences, it could help us awaken to the essential openness of our nature, which is the only real source of happiness and joy. But depression takes a different route -- blaming and recriminating when we cannot control reality. And this inevitably shuts down our capacity to respond and feel grateful for the beauty of life just as it is.
Emptiness need not be depressing. For it is what allows life to keep creating and recreating itself anew in each moment. And this makes creativity, expansiveness, growth, and real wisdom possible."
But of course it's often easier to blame ourselves and the world, or to stuff the sadness down, than it is to feel those raw feelings. It's just that the easy road is rarely the road to health and growth, to finding our calling or effecting positive change...