Sunday 1 February 2015

A Golden Sorrow by Judy Croome

Life is confusing.

I look over my years — what has been, what is and what is yet to come — and, mostly, I’m content. Happy even, on those precious days when the gods are kind and all is well.

Other days, though, for no reason, I’m filled with a sadness at the incompleteness of my world. I grieve for the imperfections of both the worlds I live in: the inner world that contains the memory of my hopes and my losses, as well as the outer world of waking and working and washing the dishes.

What is it about life that the realities never quite live up to our hopes and dreams?

Somewhere between hopeful dreams and harsh reality lies a valley of feeling. Hidden in its green and lush beauty is a yearning for something I can’t explain; something I can only feel as a deep sadness for all that cannot and will not be in my short existence on this planet.

That sadness is born because, as human beings living in an earthly world, we feel but cannot know, that there is something else, some place better than where we find ourselves today.

We’re dipped in a 'golden sorrow', looking only at our unfulfilled and unattainable dreams, hopes and desires (1). We long for another time, another place, another dream fulfilled, whether a better future, a place called Heaven or a new car.

We seek our happiness in others, in the man-made things that fill the world around us. When we find it, too often it’s a fleeting moment fading as quickly as the red  rose our lover gives us on Valentine’s Day.  

Then we’re searching again, yearning once more for another shot of happiness, another job or car or adventure until,  no longer able to bear the inconsolable longing in our hearts for we know not what, we stop searching and try to ignore the secret, dull throb of our wounded souls.

Does this mean the only way to find happiness is to stop dreaming? To stop hoping for a better world, to stop longing for contentment in our lives and just accept that, in our time on earth as sentient beings, lasting happiness is but a dream that will forever remain unfulfilled?

That may be a sensible, realistic path to walk. We think if we see the world dressed only in all her evil, we’ll survive. We think if we stop  dreaming, we’ll stop hurting.

Yet to live an existence based only on survival deepens our wounds: like hurt animals, we lash out to create a safer world for ourselves and our loved ones.

How do we stop longing for that “something” lying just beyond our grasp, our vision? We’re surrounded by incessant demands (sometimes only from ourselves, our own ambitions!)  to be better, do better, have more, get more …! 

Too often, we feel empty and lost, despite all that we have already attained, all the other dreams that we’ve already fulfilled.  Too often, we live as victims or martyrs because our impossible dreams remain out of our reach and, in a desperate attempt to still the dull heartache we feel, we blame others for our sufferings, or try to save them from theirs.

As I’ve grown older,  I’ve come to realise that happiness can and does exist in this sometimes harsh and ugly world.

Sometimes it comes in a blaze of glory, a goal achieved, a family celebration or a dream fulfilled beyond our wildest imaginings.

Mostly though, it's when we seek joy within ourselves — in more simple dreams, in contentment with our less-than-perfect lives and souls — that our wounded hearts begin to heal.

Then, when we've learnt to find our happiness in small things, life is a lot less confusing. And our hearts, once more, are innocent.

Osho Zen Tarot – Major Arcana No 19 “Innocence”
The old man in this card radiates a childlike delight in the world. There is a sense of grace surrounding him, as if he is at home with himself and with what life has brought. He seems to be having a playful communication with the praying mantis on his finger, as if the two of them are the greatest friends. The pink flowers cascading around him represent a time of letting go, relaxation and sweetness. They are a response to his presence, a reflection of his own qualities.

The innocence that comes from a deep experience of life is childlike, but not childish. The innocence of children is beautiful, but ignorant. It will be replaced by mistrust and doubt as the child grows and learns that the world can be a dangerous and threatening place. But the innocence of a life lived fully has a quality of wisdom and acceptance of the ever-changing wonder of life.                   (Description from "Osho Zen Tarot: The Transcendental Game Of Zen Cards")

Zen says that if you drop knowledge--and within knowledge everything is included, your name, your identity, everything, because this has been given to you by others--if you drop all that has been given by others, you will have a totally different quality to your being--innocence. This will be a crucifixion of the persona, the personality, and there will be a resurrection of your innocence; you will become a child again, reborn.  (Osho “Dang Dang Doko Dang”, Chapter 7 )

 (1)William Shakespeare. “Henry VIII” (Act II, sciii, ll 19)

Tis better to be lowly born
And range with humble livers in content
Than to be perked up in a glistering grief
And wear a golden sorrow


Susan Scott said...

a lovely piece of writing Judy thank you ...

Robyn Campbell said...

Great thoughts, old friend. I guess, I find happiness in little things. Here on the farm, I mean. The world is a dark place now. SO sad. But there are still some happy things. I also take comfort in my Lord, Yeshua. I know that He knows how hurtful this world can be. Great to cyber see you, Judy.

Unknown said...

Adam and Eve have a lot to answer for, but for them we wouldn't be puzzling over the meaning of life.

Judith Mercado said...

We both are dwelling today on the theme of resolving the tension between dreams and reality. If I manage to write the post that keeps wanting to be written, you'll see it. In any case, there is so much beauty in your words, e.g., "We’re dipped in a golden sorrow, looking only at our unfulfilled and unattainable dreams, hopes and desires." A great deal of wisdom, too.

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

SUSAN: ... and thank you for your comment! Always nice to know someone enjoyed a blogpost & was kind enough to comment!
ROBYN: So lovely to see you here again! The world is, sadly, so dark these days but I still have hope for the human race (at times!) Faith is such an important factor in being able to find joy in little things & on a farm you're thankfully still in touch with the natural world, which does somehow bring one a sense of timelessness and peace. So glad you popped in to sya hi and hoping all well in your part of the world!

ANN: Too true! Pity Lilith was chucked out on her ear!! :)

JUDITH: So please to have you pop in again - hoping all is well and your writing going from strength to strength! Yes, that tension between dreams and reality is always so hard to resolve. God luck with writing your post -when it's ready to be written, I'm sure it'll be written as beautifully as you can! Thanks for your compliments! :)

A Cuban In London said...

My answer would be: we're just too damned human. :-) Which means that our frailties are someone's strengths and viceversa. Right now as I was reading I was listening to WQXR New York, a programme about Bach. I had to pause it whilst finishing your post and writing my answer because one of the guests was a mathematician and he was talking about the relationship between maths and music. After reading your post, I would say that I am inclined to believe that the relationship between maths and music comes AFTER the music has been produced.

I've no idea how my comment relates to yoru post but it somehow des, as the questions you ask yourself will have different answers depending on the person. Maths seeks to equate, whereas human nature is based on difference (I know some will disagree with me. I admit that we all have a common human bond, but we are also different. Let's celebrate our differences through our common bond. I call that compromise).

I think I have waffled for far too long. Great post, really good. I could stay all nigth long pondering the same questions. :-)

Greetings from London.

Anne Gallagher said...

What a fantastic essay. Thank you. I want to print this out and keep it. Your feelings are quite genuine, and are not solitary. I've been looking at the same ideas of happiness and just what exactly that means.

I like the tarot card as well. Drop everything others have given you and become innocent. Love it.

Thanks for a great post, Judy.

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

CUBAN: Not waffling at all; rather meandering along the mind paths triggered by reading my post & listening to music. Talking of which, writing has a connection to music too, as I explored in my 2009 post The Sound of Writing. Back to your comment though, that the relationship between music & maths arose after the creation of the music - too true! Sometimes I think in today's world we're too focused on the why and the how (of music, of writing, of life itself) to just enjoy the magic of the art itself.

And speaking of magic and mysteries, isn't it just the paradox of life that, yes, we are all one on a metaphysical(Soul/spirit) level, but on a physical level we are all so different. Man or beast, black or white, male or female, gay or straight ... those are the physical differences that we need to learn to celebrate (I like that!) so that we can transcend them and recognise our common sentience. Hope you had a good night's sleep when you finally went to bed after your ponderings on Bach! :)

ANNE: SO glad you enjoyed reading it! And, yes, Osho's interpretation of the Major Arcana No 19 is one of the best - I love looking at that old man taking such joy in the little grasshopper! :) Hope your writing going well!

dolorah said...

A lovely sentiment. I wish I could just be content. Who would pay all the bills if I dropped everything.

However, I do find happiness in simple things like my grandchildren's hugs and smiles, the smell of rain and the feel of a warm sunny day. It would be nice just to live in those moments.

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

DOLORAH: Thanks for popping by to visit. So true that happiness is found in the small things that bring us the most joy: the laugh of a grandchild, the smell of rain and the warmth of the sun Hope 2015 brings you plenty of those moments to cherish!