My son Dante and I sat in a restaurant on a quaint street in Savannah, GA, eating lunch and talking. I had just helped him move into his college dorm and attended orientation sessions.
“What should I write about in my email tomorrow?” I asked him.
“Write about how it’s OK to be sad when you have every reason to be happy,” he said.
He looked at me with his big blue eyes, and I knew he recognized how I felt.
“And how it’s OK to be happy even though you have every reason to be sad,” he added.
As I dropped him off at the dorm and drove to my hotel room, I thought a lot about what he said.
Most of us accept that there is sadness even in the happiest of times – like watching your baby take his or her first steps, excited and happy, but you are also sad that the infant phase is over and won’t ever happen again – at least not with that baby. 🙂
But the reverse of that feels a bit awkward, no? How can anyone feel happiness when they have no reason to be happy? How can we smile and laugh at something funny when our life circumstances are grave and somber?
This is a bit harder because it comes with a sense of guilt or shame.
It’s that ying-yang thing, and that’s how life truly is. There is no such thing as absolute darkness or absolute light. Or absolute happiness and absolute sadness.
Without the ability to still feel that happiness when we have every reason to be sad, we would fall into despair, lose hope and get stuck in a dark place…
By giving ourselves permission to be happy, or to honor the sadness contained in the most joyful moments, we are able to experience life with much depth, and enjoy living it without fear.
So, pause this weekend and observe this in your life. Can you feel both at the same time?

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