Sometimes I seek out sad things. Things that make me cry; make me feel. It’s a way for me to safely and securely let someone else’s pain wash over me and experience for a just a little while that grief or anger or loss as my own. It’s an exercise in compassion, but more importantly, it stretches me.
This weekend, I’m reading The Rules of Inheritance by Claire Bidwell Smith. I was first introduced to her book some time ago but my perceived premiss of it (coping with parental loss) never caught my attention. Later, I enjoyed a blogpost she wrote for a friend and even bookmarked her own site. But again, it didn’t grab me. (Sorry, Claire!) At some point, I began to follow her on Instagram and there began to enjoy the little snippets of her life. Over New Years, she took a trip to Bali and I stalked her feed for ever photo bombing bat, monkey, and water priestess blessing. I connected with that journey. As little pieces of her story emerged through IG photos, I began to respect her innate strength and decided to read her book after all. With Daniela at her moms house and my work caught up, I set aside this weekend to do it.
Claire drew me in from the very first page. Her words created wounds in my soul that didn’t quite want to heal. My heart aches with her pain, and yet I encourage it to do so. I welcome the tears smarting my eyes and I take on her emotions, playing with the scenario in my mind and visualizing it as if it were my own. She makes the pain my own and I mourn our losses. When the weight begins to feel to heavy, when my chest tightens under it’s mass, I feel panic forming like a hurricane in my gut; all wind and rain swirling itself into something tangible. Something terrifyingly real. Only then does my book close and rest gently on my lap. Shaking, I rise and make my way to my darkened bedroom, moving slowly as not to hit anything in the deep darkness. I sense the bed in front of me, I hear Marco’s light snoring, and I sink into the comfort, familiarity, and warmth of it all. The way my body curls effortlessly into his and the way his hand, even in sleep, intertwines itself with mine is a much needed reality check. That heart-achingly sad world I just emerged from is not my own! Like waking from a bad dream, my soul settles peacefully. Haunted by what it’s experienced, but still peaceful. This is what my life looks like I think. This is how my husband sleeps. This is where I lay my head. It’s completely familiar, yet at the same time, shockingly new. Life takes on a new dimension and stretches my sense of self.
A close friend of mine once told me that he does the same. He wallows in imaginary, yet tragic scenarios in his mind and lets the emotion overtake him. It becomes real. In turn, he can better portray those feelings while acting and auditioning. This role play is something we all do to a certain extent. Music, film, art; it all entices the viewer to step outside themselves and connect on a foreign level. These connections permanently stretch and mold our humanity the way air inflates a child’s birthday balloon. Full to bursting, if you let it.
So sometimes I seek out sad things. By slipping into someone else’s unbearable pain, I am reminded of the magnitude and complexity of human life and how grateful I am for this existence. It’s Tai Chi for the soul and it’s so very good.