Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Sadness In Our Joy

A good friend of mine, younger than my daughter, has cancer and lives on the outside of Bogota,  Colombia.  She is struggling with the chemotherapy, lost her hair and eyebrows and and I would love to be there to give her a hug and encourage her along the way.  I met her when I lived in Bogota and have kept in touch with her ever since.  I have another friend who has had cancer and recently got re-operated on for the same reason as the first time.

I keep in touch with both of them by email and sometimes just thinking of what they go through is so very sad. It is what I call the sad part of my happiness and my joy.

Many things make us so sad.  We must live with them and let them go in the flow of our lives while we know that our happiness is always present like in a deep lake even if many pebbles create ripples through our consciousness.

Also, I have another friend whose eye is affected by a retina that got displaced and she primarily sees only through her good eye now even though the other eye is making progress.  I could go on and on. There is so much suffering out in the world and tuning into it sometimes is overwhelming.

Yet we go on living and guard our happiness like a squirrel guards its nuts before winter. We can be happy and sad at the same time even though it is hard to place the two together. 
My happiness is like my base in life.  It is the state in which my life has earned its place through much learning and much trust in my abilities, the struggles with myself and constant introspection. I came to a point of great peace that I trust to be a part of me at last. It encompasses many others whose life is an example of radiant beauty and a true inspiration.

My sadness comes in many ways. My husband's recent operation and his suffering, the news of the recent tsunami in Malaysia, the poor men in Chile that spent so long trapped underground, the cholera in Haiti, the many bombings in so many countries, the sickness in my friends, my sister's cat who got lost ... the list is endless.

Then there is my inability to make a difference, the sense of helplessness.  Yet I know that the world always has been with its problems, its disasters, its sickness and its riotous joy.

We live in a huge dichotomy, happy and peaceful yet constantly battered with the hurts that life brings us.  So I smile today and will feel like crying this afternoon but I live in great peace and my happiness is intact.  It is the basic state where I live even if yet on the surface so many things are affecting my joy.

I have come to believe that life is a place both of sorrow and peace, yet also joy and sadness.  It is a matter of accepting this fact that ultimately brings us solace and a smile on our face.  So today I place my joy in the sacred place of my heart next to my acceptance of the intrusion of pain and accept both, as part of my humanness.

It is the role of time to teach us the duality of life, the incredible dichotomy that makes us laugh or cry or deviate from the straight course we had imagined for our path to also encompass the sadness that we must embrace as a part of living.

There are things I cannot do.  My inability to act is a part of my suffering, yet those things make a better human out of me since they teach me empathy, they teach my feelings to enlarge and encompass a great bit of my consciousness.  I can feel grateful, I can feel for others, I can feel how life flows by me with its greatness and its pain; I can feel all of life's discovery and its losses. I am a real being and I can praise the fact that everyday I can learn and grow and be me.  I am always in a state of becoming.

I realize that if I did not feel pain, I would not be human; and if I was not human, I would also not be able to feel the joy; like the warm morning light upon my walls suddenly invading my house as a marvelous happening that lifts my happiness to a state of ecstasy.

Life indeed is a constant lesson and our sadness is wedded to our joy.

2010 Copyright Micheline Brierre
Edited by Barry Kaplan


  1. I'm so glad to read I'm not the only one who lives in this "in between" of joy and sadness...I, too, find myself relishing the beauty of my life while at the same time always having in mind those who are experiencing pain. I carry the pictures of babies and women in Haiti, and they fill my mind often throughout the day, catching me off guard. But then I release myself to share their sorrow and in doing so I somehow feel more connected to my own soul and spirit. Funny how the universe works! Thank you Micheline for sharing your words!

  2. I read your poetry and, as usual I was touched so much. Thank you for adding so much to my life. Love, Beth

  3. "Our sadness is wedded to our joy." (your words Micheline) It's a part of life that we should expect everyday--to give us a measuring stick for our happiness. This is the way of the Universe.

    Is it the times or just coincidence that many of my friends and acquaintenances are experiencing so much sadness these days: deaths, serious illness, financial struggles, impossible life situations, broken relationships, and job difficulties. The sadness is overwhelming the joys of life! The smiles are far and fewer... positive outlooks have become a facade. We have to try so much harder to see the blue skies and green lights.

    Between you and me, it is wearing down my resolve to dream big. I could be content with peace and little deviation from the norm. But, every tick tock of the clock brings the anticipation of hope for the future.

  4. Dear Micheline,
    As we get up in the morning we are usually happy, but what ever happen later on is a challenge often to stay happy. Life trows at you all sorts of sadness and pain but we have to make sure that we go to bed at night happy with who we are in all that madness around the world and the sickness for us and our dearest family members and friends. We have to look at it only one day at the time to survive in our happiness.
    Micheline in LC