Thursday, May 3, 2012

What Do We Do With the Sadness?

Today I listened to a Radiolab podcast titled "Race." The last section told the story of a Sunni man trying to locate his father's body in a Shia-controlled morgue with the help of his Shia friends. There were several layers of horror bound in this story: The sudden disappearance of the Sunni man's father; the photos of the dead shown in the morgue waiting room that family members were forced to sit through, waiting to see if their missing relatives would appear on the screen; the collecting of his father from a pile of bodies in the morgue. My breath staccatoed and tears began to well. I was so sad, hollowed, mortified, and bewildered for this man that I don't know. I felt helpless and small and weak, unable to reach through time and technology to help this man. But what would I have been able to do?

I immediately called my friend, who has seen me cry at the musical Chess (just to give you a barometer for my sensitivity), to help me calm down. She too feels overwhelmed with all the wrongness in the world, all the awful, all the monstrous. She reminded me about housing gratitude in our actions. Breathe with gratitude. Nourish with gratitude. Speak with gratitude. Acknowledge and cherish what is around you. It isn't combat against the dark, and it isn't a guard against it, it is an acceptance that the world is unbalanced, and we do what we can as individuals to restore balance. 

Even now as I type this, I am harshly wiping tears from my cheeks and wringing my hands, feeling guilt that my reality is so much different from the Sunni man's. But my friend's words echo in my head: Respect. Respond. Restore. Storing my sadness in my chest will do nothing but make me feel heavy. Walking with a purpose will keep me light on my feet. 


  1. you are lucky to have a friend like that, who will listen to who you are, understand, empathise, offer words of peace.

    "the world is unbalanced, and we do what we can as individuals to restore balance."
    i remind myself of this every time i cry (like you, sensitive)

  2. It IS hard to feel like we're standing by helpless while so many things go wrong and so many people hurt. I get a little down about these things too sometimes, and always come back to the Bible verse that says "whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might." If I'm doing all I can in my own little sphere, and not letting a single person I meet get by without feeling loved, I feel like I'm helping. :)

  3. The lyrical way you express your emotions knocks me over.

    I also feel like a bit of a parrot wanting to constantly comment that I've definitely been there. Sometimes I feel like I feel other people's pain way too easily, but I also think that makes me a better person. Your friend gives good advice :-) Being able to take that hurt and channel it into giving back, fighting the good fight, or helping someone in need can harness that passion to change things you can. I'm a firm believer in the fact that any little action helps.

  4. Sometimes it feels so heavy feeling things so deeply, especially things we feel we can't do anything about. But I'm glad for your sensitive spirit.


  5. Super wise words!!!!! Thank you Nichole for sharing them x