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the Presence Point

Sadness, the Key

photo by Scott Robbins

Sadness, the Key

Sadness: a guiding barometer of our life’s intention.

It’s one of those unsettlingly warm late autumn mornings in Vermont. Last night when we went to bed, there was snow on the ground. This morning after a long, hard rainstorm, the snow has melted and the fields again look green. Mud squishes underfoot where frozen ground ought to be. It feels to me that there is both a tinge of sadness as well as expectation in the air.

In this darkening time it is almost natural to lose direction and give in to chaos. I know from experience what that chaos feels like. It feels like head pounding, heart racing, stomach churning. In other words, stress. If I recognize the stress in time, I can actually feel it. By feeling it, I can become familiar with it. And almost inevitably it shifts and moves into sadness.

With the scenery brown and dull, it strikes me now that this sadness is not only exceptionally useful, accurate, and meaningful, but is also my guiding beacon. It furthermore strikes me that this is not the typical approach to sadness.

I wish to use sadness as the compass directing me towards my deeper intentions.

Have you ever experienced moments when you questioned your actions? Moments in which you wondered, perhaps even with sadness, am I going in the right direction? Moments when you recognized you had spun yourself into a web of anxiety, perhaps not living true to your intention?

In moments like this when we question, doubt, or "take stock,” we have the opportunity to reorient towards our aspiration. Without that feeling of vulnerable sensitivity, we might not even recognize that we are moving in the right direction. Without sadness it is hard to recognize the right direction, no?

I experienced this whole scenario myself recently. In the aftermath of the U.S. election, I spun out of control into deep anxiety. It was as if the turmoil I felt about the state of our society turned inward and became a personal reflection on the state of my own life. I worked extra crazy hard, too many hours, and most of them focused on trying to line up a side job just to try to make a buck. After two weeks of this crazy activity, I broke down. What arose in me was deep sadness because really all I want to do is run my new business, with all of the wonderful creative activities that are involved in it, and be a mama to my beautiful little girl.

In conversation with my fantastically wise younger brother, I recognized the need to again simplify. My sadness guided me back to my pure intention, my utter conviction that what I am doing right now is exactly what I should be doing.

What is required for this transformation? Bravery to touch in and feel. Courage to trust your inner compass, and allow yourself to be who you know you really are.

What is the harm? I don't think there is any. I think the challenge is both in embracing sadness, uncertainty and discomfort, but also embracing our inner vision, intention, insight, and intuition, and then trusting that.

Nobody else knows our inner vision. Nobody else can tell us what our true intention "should" be. It is up to us to feel our way through our lives.

So why not embrace sadness as a barometer for our intention?

Article dedicated to Mary Claire, for reminding me of the connection between sadness and intention.

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