Monday, February 20, 2006

The habit of sorrow

“There are places,” I tell him, “where the ice is thin. Sometimes, one word will take you there and you’ll step right through. I never mean for it to happen. I never know when it will happen.” We’ve been talking for over an hour. Trying to untangle the mess we’ve made of things. It’s not easy when you’re trying to be here, now – instead of being the sum of all the parts that led up to here and now.

He nods. Yes. He says…

“Can you let me make you happy? I mean it. Do you think you can do that?” His brown eyes, my blue eyes become the whole room.

No one ever asked me that before. Not so it was a real question. So I think about it and realize that sadness has followed me always, like a mongrel looking for a home. I expect that dog now. Water trembles under the ice, the sun melting it thinner. Every time the sun starts shining, I am waiting for that dog to step.

And so, he comes along. He feels me waiting and he comes. The ice shatters and the dog and I swim.

And if I moved – even by an inch or so – I could enjoy the sun shining. Maybe I could throw a stick for that old dog. I could turn around and say, “Getting’ mighty close to the edge there, cowboy.” And instead of falling in, we’d laugh and go another direction.

I consider the question, and the dog, and finally when I’m sure of the answer, I say, “Yes. I think I might be able to do that….Thank you for asking.”


Mary said...

I wish you happiness, lj.

LJ said...

Thanks Mary. I wish it back to you, too.

Some of us, I think, whether it is karmic or a matter of personality makeup, are inclinded towards being serious and/or oversensitive. And some are equipped to deal with the things that make most people want to run like hell in the opposite direction. I'm one of those. I cope fairly well with the dark, with scary and taboo issues - and I learn much of value there - but it often leaves me wandering in sombre places.

This conversation (the current entry)connects, for me, with a realization I had about a year ago - that happiness is a choice we make. While life will not always unfold as we'd like, we do have choices about
how we react and making the decision to be happy goes a long way towards bringing it about. (Nothing original here, except that last year, for me, this stopped being an intellectual concept and became real.)However, sadness, like anything else, can become a habit. And habit, by its very nature, is unaware of itself.

So when this conversation came up - it was not around whether anyone else could/should/would make me happy - but rather it was about my expectations. Could I even accept that someone wished to make happy. Could I drop the deeply ingrained habit of expecting to find a spider crawling out of the rose?

I think you may understand this without my explaining. I'm partly answering you, partly wanting to tell others who read that I am not ALWAYS gloomy, and I needed to clarify that what amazed me here was that someone so clearly saw that habit of sadness - and questioned it. And, it was a person of the male persuasion!

It was quite the profound question.

Koru's Daughter said...

I have been waiting for this post. It made me happy to see it. Best of luck to you, the Scorpio and that darn dog.

Regarding your reply: LJ, you have a greater range than you are giving yourself credit for.

Marigoldie said...

Ya know...I understand this.

Melinda said...

Brave post. It made me think about something a friend once said to me during a time that felt particularly dark. She listened for awhile, then looked at me and said, "So. Do you just want to sit in this?"
I was all -- I didn't know there was another option.

LJ said...

I don't think I'm the only person that dog tags. That's perfect, Melinda...exactly, "Do you just want to sit in this?"
Once in a while, my personal mantra:
"It's my blog and I can say what I want" is going to lead down roads like this. The good part, is that roads like this usually meet up with roads to someplace else.

Jessie said...

You're so right about the habit of sadness, about expecting the dog to fall inevitably through the ice. I read something last year about deciding to be happy, printed it out, in fact, to keep on my nightstand as a reminder. Surely there was a time when we knew how to be happy without instructions, wasn't there?

You have a lot more power when you know that it's about you allowing yourself to be happy, rather than depending on someone else to make you happy.

LJ said...

Amen Jessie.

I'd love to do a blog entry on this subject - and hesitate only because so many brilliant people have written on the subject more powerfully than I could hope to...

Not only do I agree...I've believed for years now, (although I fall off the wagon and through the ice sometimes)that depending on someone else to make you happy positively guarantees that you won't be. Like you say - you give up your own power. Likewise, thinking other people make you unhappy is just as big a waste of time. Not that I don't do that as well. But as I age - I spend less time on it, fight through it quicker.

It is a nice thing though, if you'd like to bring happiness through the door for someone or if someone wants to do that for you. It was good for me to check the state of my expectations in that regard - and realize that my attitude towards receiving is part of the equation in the happiness question.

And then...there's the idea (a biggy for me)that it's futile to hang onto the idea of staying in ANY state for long, because the world shifts and changes. I'm with the Buddhists in believing that suffering is the result of hanging on tothe idea that anything lasts or stays the same - happiness included. (I'm sure there are Buddhists out there who are shuddering over my interpretation but what the heck...)

And yeah. Maybe once we didn't need directions. What were we then? Four, five? And maybe in the coming years we won't again. There's something to aspire to, huh?

zhoen said...

I was once asked,
"You take care of everyone, but who takes care of you?" I realized the answer was "Nobody." And that felt terrible.
So, the next person who came along that wanted to take care of me, well I decided to try just letting him.

Happiness can be a habit just as much as gloominess.

LJ said...

Agreed, Zhoen. And I'm workin' on it. (And ps - check this lady's blog folks.)

Mary said...

Sorry I'm late coming back on this. You're totally right,lj. The challenge of it - and I'm an habitually serious and sad person (though not many people IRL realise that cos I keep it well hidden) - is that it become unconscious after a while. And it takes a lot of awareness and living in the present moment to catch these habitual, repetitious, needlessly unhappy thoughts, and if we can't make them go away, at least see them for the liars that they are. And maybe gradually replace them?

Very helpful to read your reply, and sorry I'm late - took a few days' blog sabbatical.

LJ said...

Mary, I'm reading Liz Greene's "The Astrological Neptune" and finding a lot of wisdom on the subject there, as I have a first house Neptune aspecting Sun, Moon, Saturn, Pluto and Uranus. Sometime we should exchange birth data - if you're comfortable with that (and ONLY if you are totally comfortable.)

Due for a Saturn return this summer & I've been digging back to what was going on when Saturn opposed Natal Saturn 14 years ago. Not strangely, it would appear that I was struggling with this issue - and trying understand some of the dominant archetypes at work in my life.

Mary said...

lj, i'm totally comfortable with and very happy to exchange birth data. Glad you suggested it. i'll get mine off to you in the next day or so via your email. And I have 1st house Neptune too, sextile Pluto, trine Merc and Venus ... you have really got the full house of cards, though with all those aspects.

I've read and really liked a lot of Liz Greene but not that one. Methinks I should probably do so ..