I suppose I’ll address the issue of my “negativity” or “pessimism”, along with some other words I’ve been hearing in relation to my writing and other media, comments, etc lately (really, “emo?). These claims have a certain validity, but I’d hardly call my muse “the tombstone”, as someone recently observed. Mostly it’s just winter, and frankly I’m against it. I enjoy freedom of movement and the outdoors. My most cathartic moments are generally spent out of doors with my dog and my man. But let’s sing a song of momento mori today.
I want to feel something in life, even if that be something be “bad.” I don’t even necessarily care for that word or the notion of “negative emotions.” There’s a time for The Beatles and there’s a time for Mozart’s Requiem or even just a sad etude. Winter naturally reminds us of death. And there’s been more than a few reasons to mourn lately. Bowie has left us for the stars. And Alan Rickman is sneering on us from some celestial plane of infinitely languid condescension. So what’s so wrong with a bit of sad?
Not a thing. Say I. And dear me, how could I be alone? Why go around with a silly grin plastered on your face everyday unless you fear some unbearable evil will befall if your smile should slip? I’ve never seen anything wrong with celebrating an old cemetery, a moment passed, a shiny yellow memory that’s gotten blue on it. How would we ever know Joy without Sadness? Right my fellow Pixar fans?
I don’t advocate dwelling in grief, sorrow or despair. But ignoring these emotions seems to me far more perilous a thing than letting them grow inside until they own you without your realizing. When your fear of your own Dark Side dictates your very life because you’ve neglected it, then what? If we had no reminders of that eternal loss, our own mortality, how can we be expected to handle the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to?
Denying the Dark is every bit as dangerous as ignoring the Light. That’s why we can experience both. Evolution teaches us that nothing evolves without a reason because nature doesn’t waste energy. All of our emotions are there for a cause, and a very good one. They’re how we learn to live as a human being and survive the process.
I recently heard a phrase I liked. “When you light a candle, you also cast a shadow.” ( Ursula K. Le Guin, The Earthsea Cycle) I don’t know the context of the quote, but I do know that the the Light and the Shadow are always with us. Shakespeare wrote sonnets of loss, and it never dimmed the brilliance of his humor. But it occurs to me that all life navigates that in-between world of mirth and joy, darkness and sorrow.
Why not choose winter, when the light is cold and Persephone still walks in the underworld, to meditate on those quiet, and not so quiet, shadow moments? Just don’t live there. The Spring will come.
And on the next sunny day, “Let’s go where we’re happy. I’ll meet you at the cemetery gates. Keats and Yeats are on your side. But Wilde is on mine.” (The Smiths, Cemetery Gates)
PS – I’m still with Johnny Cash on wearing black though. I’ve got that which passeth show. Good grief!