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The Soul of Sadness

Friday, 26 July, 2019 - 10:06 am

I don't like feeling sad. 
Melancholy has a sneaky way of draining our energy and paralyzing our lives. I much prefer a happy mindset. 
But here's the problem: Life isn't a string of happy occasions. Things happen. 
Sometimes, I make mistakes, causing discomfort to myself and others. 

Sometimes, challenges just come our way, without any apparent human causality. 
Stresses and disappointments seem part and parcel of our lives. To ignore them is naïve. To face them is sad.
So we need keep our expectations reasonable, since frustrations are a function of expectations. Every life on the planet has stress, so I can't honestly be surprised by my own. 
I don't want to harp on my failings, but I need to face them. And deep inside, as disquieting as this introspection may be, we should be glad that we’re going through the exercise. I should feel inner satisfaction that I have the maturity to face myself, even when it’s uncomfortable. 
There's another important ingredient to a healthy approach to life’s less-pleasant side: ">The gift of living on this planet is what brings me my 'troublesome' burden. I certainly pray to G-d for more manageable stress, but if that's the price of my life and its blessings, I'll choose life. 
When it comes to feeling others’ misery, I was lucky to have the Rebbe as a role model. I was awed by the depth of the Rebbe’s pain when he would speak of humanity’s distress, when he was so often referring to people whom he'd never met. I envied the depth of his connection to others. 
We are now in the midst of an annual calendar period we call ‘the Three Weeks,’ a zone dedicated to feeling the world’s pain and facing our own contributions to it. This past Sunday was a fast day – the 17th of Tammuz – and two weeks from this coming Sunday (on August 11) we’ll observe the fast of 9 Av (Tisha B'av). Jewish tradition sets aside this time to consider our painful history, acknowledge the problems of our present and take an honest look at our own unhelpful behaviors. All with an eye toward healing. 


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