We sang this song in 5th grade music class, and for some reason, I've never forgotten it. Imagine my surprise when I found the original version on YouTube, and minus the opening crotch-shot, I don't think I've ever enjoyed more seeing a big, bearded, former professional football playing, needlepoint-lovin' man joyfully sing about feelings.
And a version sung by a lady, which gives a little background to the song/album. Apparently it was quite the groundbreaking little record.
I'm a big proponent of letting ourselves be sad when life is sad. Sadness is part of the grand spectrum of human emotion, but I think Americans in particular are a little afraid of sadness to the point where it's hard to know the difference anymore between true sadness and depression. In fact, the two words are often interchanged, which I think is a little dangerous.
(I was recently told that talking about medical issues or depression on a blog seems desperate, or like a cry for help, or attention seeking, or "weak." Well, fuck me, that sucks. A big apology to you all who think that...feel free to stop reading now, because I'm about to get all weak on you all. I mean, DON'T GO, I'M DESPERATE FOR THE ATTENTION! HELP, HELP!)
Anyway, as a person who knows the difference between depression and sadness, I'm careful now to try to really try to get in tune with the emotions I'm feeling and call 'em like they are. I try not say "depressed" when I'm really feeling a wee bit melancholy, and I try not to say, "I'm okay," when I'm physically feeling symptoms of depression. Sadness is an emotion that should eventually pass, depression is a chemical imbalance that can affect a person physically. Sadness may be a symptom of depression, but it's always accompanied by other symptoms, as well.
So now that we have those differences out of the way, yes, sadness can really, really suck. It can twist our insides up, make us hurt, and allow us cry until we are dehydrated and puffy-eyed and drained. It can make us feel raw and open and vulnerable...not necessarily prized traits in our culture.
BUT, I have found that rawness and openness and vulnerability are also useful conduits to creativity or to greater self-awareness. When you let sadness run its course, and allow yourself to grieve the sad thing, loss, or time, you'll come out on the other end better for it. It's no different than our other emotions. Being ridiculously happy for a time can leave us better people, too...it's just a different emotional route getting there.
Get it out. If you're feeling sad, or life is sad, or someone you know is sad, be sad for awhile*. Have a good cry. Watch a sappy movie, throw on a pair of sweats and let the snot run down your face. Within the sadness, allow yourself to feel what it's like to be open, raw and vulnerable. Write a story or a song, journal a bit, talk it out with a friend. And hey, it really is all right to cry...it might make you feel better.
What about you? What do you think about sadness?
*I am not a medical professional. I cannot and would not diagnose anyone with a medical problem, and this post is in no way meant to do so. I will say, however, that if you believe you're experiencing something other than a soon-to-pass emotion, or if you experience profound sadness, feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness or pessimism for more than two weeks, please see your doctor. KTHXBYE.