Recently I heard from a reader who asked me about sadness, noting that I seemed to skip the negative here on my blog. She wondered whether I purposely kept things positive, and I said that I do. Truth is, I like to hold on to this as a lighter space, and I save the good, darker stuff for fiction. In any case, I thought I'd take a moment to share my thoughts on sadness and its place.
Melancholy has always felt comfortable to me. Nostalgia and melancholy, those I can do — those are the backbone of writing and music and so many of the things I love. But sadness in its truest, boldest sense? It's not something I easily wear. I tug and itch at it, then reach for something softer, something a bit more worn-in. I pick melancholy, usually, which tends to bleed into some shade of understanding if you sit with it long enough. Or write. Writing and music and running, those seem to help.
Scattered Sunday nights and the occasional rainy day. For whatever reason, those are the times that I normally decide to unfold the sadness I've been stashing away. And when I unroll it, I spread it out, letting it splay across my chest so that I can really feel its weight, its pressure. Then, for however many minutes or hours I need to, I wallow. I wade and sink and sometimes drown in whatever it is that made me itch, because I've come to realize that I can't let those stacks of sadness pile up forever. At some point or another, it's necessary to pick up each piece, see it for what it is, and throw it away so that I can move on.
This isn't to say that I always toss the bad stuff aside — hardly. There's room for pockets of sadness within each moment, I think, and if those spaces start to spill over, that's when it's time to bring them to light. That's when it's time to wallow, to call Mom, to curl up in bed and read a book or listen to rainy-day songs or just sit there feeling sorry for yourself. Every so often, that's okay. There's a time and a place for sadness, and I've found that eventually, when I come across the right occasion, I'll try it on.