He was the first sad man I remember. I preferred sadness to anger and I preferred him for too long a time.” — Richard Hugo, “Doing the House”
I prefer sadness to anger, though in the end neither brings peace to an unsettled soul.
Anger too often is prelude to violence. It burns through the veins, lights up every nerve, and eats away at the soul. Anger can damage the body, destroy the mind, and poison every relationship. Living with anger makes for an unpleasant existence.
Sadness is preferable, but it also can be debilitating. Too often sadness becomes despair, paralyzing the will and freezing every hopeful desire and happy thought. Sadness can spin into dark places, like the sad man of Richard Hugo’s poem “who drank himself to the grave.” Sadness sits heavy in gray houses.
Although sadness remains preferable to anger, neither seems satisfying. Is there a middle way?
We have much to be angry about, and good reason to be sad. But neither sadness nor anger alone have much effect for lasting change in the world. Can we find a way beyond the sadness and the anger to acceptance, gratitude, and compassion? Accepting all that is, being grateful for our brief time in this world, and having compassion for those who are broken, suffering, sad, and angry makes the world a more livable place. Compassion in particular connects us to the beauty and the madness of all things as we weather the storms of desires and fears toward the calm serenity of happy, peaceful beingness.
When confronted by an enraging circumstance or a maddening personality, I choose sadness over anger. And then I try to remind myself of a middle way, the path of acceptance, compassion, and kindness. We do more to change the world with caring than with violent anger or resigned sadness.
[Daily post 042 of 260 in my year-long challenge.] ♨