being human

A Mix of Sadness & Gratitude

It seems impossible to feel sad and grateful at the same time, yet those are the two precise emotions I’ve simultaneously carried with me today.

A deep well of sadness has settled in again, what was once an abnormal feeling has become familiar. To a self-proclaimed ‘glass half full,’ cheery soul, I feel lost in it.

I find myself reflecting and then feeling an emptiness, an absence. I think about days not many years ago that were full, busy, too busy, and the ways I longed for quiet, contemplation, time. I wanted something I couldn’t have and now I want what I once had back.

My yoga toolbox provides me with many tools. Santosha, the third niyama of the eight limbs of yoga, asks that I find contentment. Yeah, I know I should, but how?

Each time I feel sad, today included, I flip a switch. I look around. I count my blessings. I feel so very grateful to be me, living my life. It occurs to me, though, that this feeling doesn’t arise the way sadness does.

Gratitude — the feeling, the thoughts, the well of sincere emotion for all the blessings of life — it’s a learned practice, cultivated through habit.

I wonder, how do I temper the two emotions? How do I regulate them? A spiritual bypasser for years, I no longer want to gloss over the depth of my emotions. I actually want to feel the despair, but how do I do that without getting swept away by it? And how do I allow myself to feel grateful without pushing the sadness so far down it can no longer exist? Am I just crazy? Am I the only person who feels this way? Sometimes I think so. Putting words to it all feels impossible.

Each question begs another. I ponder the state I’ve tried to live in for a while now: the now. It’s clear that if I have one thing and want another, there is no now in that. I project my thoughts into the future, into an imagined scenario, into the way I think it will or should be, and when the magic moment arrives, it never turns out like I imagine.

I complicate life. Over and over. It’s the simple things that make me the happiest. Our woods, my breath, this moment; surely they are enough. But the thoughts don’t stop. Maybe that’s a good thing. I wouldn’t have as much to say if they did.

Photo by Chris Ensey on Unsplash

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