September 22, 2013

The Forever Empty

A few days ago I posted this Louis CK interview about smart phones and the infinite sadness on Facebook. A friend of mine mentioned that he didn't get it-- This Sadness.  Later that night, we were talking and I was trying to explain what I felt CK met by the sadness, but I am not sure I did it justice, because birthday karaoke parties never feel right for contemplating, "That thing. That forever empty. It's all for nothing and you are alone," feeling.

"I guess I have never been that sad," he said. And for that moment, yup you guessed it, I felt so incredibly sad for him. How could he have never felt the forever empty? How could he have never, "stood in front of it and let it hit him like a truck?" Because I couldn't agree more that, "Sadness is poetic. You are lucky to live sad moments."

I mentioned that I have been learning to be alone in my quiet place of sadness since I was eight. "Did something happen then?" they asked. I grinned. Yeah. A few things. But this post isn't about poor victim me. It is not about divorce or car accidents or alcohol or abuse or suicide or pain. It is about sadness as the most powerful emotion in my life.

I have learned more from sadness and suffering and pain than I have ever learned from bliss. Without it I would not even know what happiness is. Without the emptiness I would have no understanding of gratitude. It is from the dukkha that I have grown.
"Suffering is a big word in Buddhist thought. It is a key term and it should be thoroughly understood. The Pali word is dukkha, and it does not just mean the agony of the body. It means that deep subtle sense of unsatisfactoriness which is a part of every mind moment and which results directly from the mental treadmill. The essence of life is suffering, said the Buddha. At first glance this seems exceedingly morbid and pessimistic. It even seems untrue. After all, there are plenty of times when we are happy. Aren't there. No, there are not. It just seems that way. Take any moment when you feel really fulfilled and examine it closely. Down under the joy, you will find that subtle, all-pervasive undercurrent of tension, that no matter how great this moment is, it is going to end. No matter how much you just gained, you are either going to lose some of it or spend the rest of your days guarding what you have got and scheming how to get more. And in the end, you are going to die. In the end, you lose everything. It is all transitory."
Henepola Gunaratana, from 'Mindfulness in Plain English'.
Don't get me wrong I have spent much of my life terrified of the emptiness that sadness and being alone can bring. Alone in dark rooms, the music loud, the bottles empty, trying to fill the void-- confusing the sadness with rage, only to learn that once we embrace the fact that no matter what we do, we will always been entirely alone, then and only then can we begin to truly understand happiness or better yet peace.

Just, "because we don't want that little bit of sad, we push it away," or cover it up with booze or food or friends or social media, but once we understand that it is always there, it is meant to be there, that it anchors us, then we can begin to let it teach us.

Not sure if I was able to explain the sadness much better in this post then I did last night, but maybe this explains it better:

or maybe this:

Or maybe you can help me. How do you understand The Sadness?

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