Amidst the hype of new age spirituality about the laws of attraction, I think the role of sorrow is forgotten. Sorrow is important too and I think it deserves a mention because of its power to shape our characters. When chasing the light, we tend to forget about the darkness that keeps the light in balance, making us whole and enabling growth. We can become so obsessed with enlightenment that we forget that love encompasses the ups and the downs, the losses and gains, the ebbs and the flows. It’s all part of being human. Instead of focusing so much on what we would like to become, maybe we could occasionally lift the veil of our souls and take a look at what is there already. We might want to extend a hand of welcome to the friends that lurk in the dark corners of our minds.
Perhaps the reason why we overlook sorrow is because it isn’t as simple and straight forward as “success”, “money” or even “depression”, for which we can prescribe an intervention in the form of advice or a strategy even when it’s not in the form of medication. Sorrow is a bit different because there is no answer to it. It is Life having its way with us, reminding us that ultimately we are not in control. We are thrown into a blender as a cruel joke to see what comes out on the other side. Often we have no choice but to become a better person having known the hard side of life or else our souls would shrivel away with bitterness and hate.
Sorrow takes on different guises because there are different kinds: the kind that we create for ourselves as a result of bad choices and the kind that just happens to us without us having any control over it. When sorrow is a result of bad choices, Life is calling us to make better choices. A good dose of ownership is often helpful to facilitate Life’s agenda for us. I associate the other kind with the Grim Reaper, regardless of whether actual Death is involved or not. It’s this kind of sorrow that draws my attention, not only because of the role it has played in my own life but because of what I see in the lives of others and its paradoxical interplay of light and darkness.
The Grim Reaper traditionally appears as a skeleton with a scythe in its hand. This shows its power over life: when it comes with its scythe to end it, there is no escape. Death ultimately conquers us, being the only certainty of life. But the fact that Death exists enables Life to triumph, because it’s the ultimate deadline that urges us to make the most of what we have. When a life is fully lived, Death is not an enemy but a friend escorting the soul to the next phase.
Sorrow isn’t always synonymous with physical death but it is as much a fact of life, although some people get more of it than others. As in the case of Death, we stand before Sorrow having to acknowledge that at times we are powerless against the forces of life. Ultimately all we can do is surrender. When we allow it to transform us and have the courage to look it square in the eyes, it will walk away of its own accord. At some point it will remind us that we have a life that needs to be lived. If we greet it as a friend and are willing to take its lessons to heart, often it will be Sorrow itself telling us that we have known enough heartache and it’s time to be happy. The scars of sorrow may remain for some time. Whilst some may feel broken because of it, I often see the light shining brighter from those who have been touched by its hand.