The Cold Pulse of Sorrow: In Praise of Sadness

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This winter is cold and hard. And my endless search for a story where I’m perfect enough or wise enough to avoid pain is met in my mind with a friend’s soft voice: I’m sorry, darling, but you’re human. 

Tonight I walked in black clogs along the river trail, my ankles bare and bitten by icy air beneath my long, gray skirt. The bare trees jutted their limbs and sticks into the chill of river and sky, and mallards’ burnished backs and green heads floated on the running water, their quacks and taunts floating up to join the smell of wispy woodsmoke.

The cold pulse of sorrow enclosed me; one warm tear fell down my face. I don’t cry often these winter days. More than one tear and I am drowning in a deep and endless well, surrounded by stones of choices and stories and impossibles, things done and undone, words said and left unsaid, all that is aching and unsustainable.

Why must this be a world of sadness and sorrow?

The river flows on. The sky fades gray, then orange, deepens to cerulean and indigo. Here, even here, I am grateful—not for how I’m filled, but for how I’m emptied. Sorrow is the gift of being hollowed out for hope and future joys. This jagged joy of being human is more than joy. It is also joy’s counterpoint—sadness, sorrow. All of it is a call to gratitude. All. All. All.

This moment. Even this.

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