Sorrow is its own master. It galvanises all the sources of pain waiting in the wings to create the perfect storm, leaving you undone. It is as ruthless as it is all consuming. There is seldom an easy route to safety and like any mighty storm, the only way past it is through it.
My own nature is to be melancholic but I have always found ways to disguise this to the world. Perhaps my only true reveal is in my writing. It shouldn’t have surprised me (but it did) when my heart stopped a few years back, I recognised what was happening and instead of the oft purported life flashing by, for me I was overwhelmed only with sadness. I felt the burden of all the sorrow that would befall the loved ones I was leaving behind. I came back from the light, a tad darker perhaps.
I guess the true mastery of sorrow is its ability to render one helpless. My darker days are well camouflaged. I have learned that while I cannot win the battles every time, I will see my way out the other side. Perhaps that is the key. But I am absolutely helpless in the face of other’s sorrow for that, I cannot fix. I am like a dried sponge. My shell feels hard but once you wet it with so much as a single tear drop, I begin to absorb all the pain I see. It does little to help the ones in most need. The sorrow around us is perhaps the sorrow that leaves us most helpless for it is a battle we cannot fight by proxy.
There are none so strong they cannot be felled by crises of the heart. There can be none I suspect, not touched at some time in their life by the pain of heart break. But sadness sidles in from many places. It can haunt us from our past, linger in the creases of our mind, tether us to another us and leave us strangled by its grip.
Sometimes it is a darkness in and of itself that needs no inspiration, a conflation of something and nothing that can mean everything in the moment. Whether it takes us down in a single sweep, or drags at our coat tails holding us back, its greatest trick is making us believe it is majestic and invincible, an acrid, putrid, loathsome emotion, an ocean that we drown in if we forget to swim.
I can only speak for me. I am still at sea. Sometimes, I barely have time to catch my breath before the next wave, but I have learned to take shelter through the worst of it. There is no one immune from the hidden darkness that walks among us every day. It rubs shoulders with us as it smiles back the monster within, sometimes perhaps a word away from disintegration. It wears makeup and shoes, a suit or a pair of jeans. It wears its heart on its sleeve, but then covers it up so no one else can see it.
The salt of tears feeds the monster. The gulp of pain as you swallow it down, only encourages the beast. The solitude of belief, the cause of so much grief in the simple premise that you are alone, is the mastery of this creature, it’s dominating feature is it becomes our teacher. We learn to be subdued by its weight, until all too late we learn it can be defeated.
I have no mastery of the art. I do battle. I win, I lose, but most importantly I choose. Sometimes the choices I make are wrong. I am no savant. I can neither offer advice nor consolation for all sorrow is truly felt in the isolation of our own hearts, but I can offer that which I know to be true for me, for what it’s worth.
Inside my head, when I am alone in my thoughts, I am only who I choose to be. I am not bettered by the darkest of my inklings and even when it feels like I may someday be overwhelmed by the force of my melancholia, I choose so not to lose. I choose to be better than the darkness. I choose to take a bite from my elephant, just that one bite at a time bite, to alight from the traps my dark old soul has set for me. Eating my big old monster, one bite at a time, even if I know I may never finish the gargantuan feast set out on my table, is enough to let the light in, enough at least for me. It sets me free, even if only for a while, but there in the sunlight again, I know I will smile again and that begins a whole new journey.
Today I don’t feel much like smiling. I have a tear on my eye and a tear in my heart but, that’s the part I know is not forever. The master of my sorrows it turns out – is me. But I am a master in training only. I just have to practice some more to get it right, to be the ringmaster of my own delight, so I am readied for the fight, ready for the night of my day, ready to take the worst out of my best. Heavy the heart in the chest, but I know the sun is always waiting. Tomorrow will be bright again. Sometimes the return of your smile may be a bit further away, you just have to remember it’s coming… I just smile on the outside while I’m waiting…
Haven’t read a Max Power book yet? I think it’s time to pick one up.
Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Darkly Wood II The woman who never wore shoes, Larry Flynn, Bad Blood and Little Big Boy
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