The countryside here in Wisconsin right now is a barren desert of snow. The trees are leafless, dull, brown and dismal. During a two hour drive home from a client visit last week, I found myself experiencing the bleakness that often comes to many of us in the North this time of year. It has been a long, hard winter, and sometimes it feels as if the warmth of the sun on my body and the smell of the summer breeze through the lush green trees is a distant memory from another life. At these times, it can be a challenge to not want to live in anticipation of warmer days.
During this drive, I was thinking about what it means to live in the moment when the moment seems to hold no joy. I thought about the things in my life for which I am grateful: my career, this website, my family, etc. The fact is, while I am very grateful for these blessings, I did not have the energy nor the will to experience joy in that moment. I reached for a tissue to clear my nose of the affects of another miserable winter cold, and I wondered if I could live in the moment and accept that the moment contains sadness and many things that are undesirable to me.
No matter how inspired a life I try to lead, tragedy, death, upset, illness and occasional melancholic moments are inevitable. And, for a truly inspired life, each moment is a treasure. It is in the moment that life has significance, that lessons are learned, that God speaks to us and that peace is found. Even in moments of sadness, these things are found.
The year 2007 carried several lessons for me on living in moments of melancholy. The lessons took the form of funerals. I attended more funerals in that single year than in any full decades prior. It seems that most of us find that we can experience sadness and grief most fully at funerals. We don’t worry about the affects of self-pity, selfishness or lack of gratitude. We just know there’s pain in our hearts that we can’t ignore and that friends and family are around us to share our pain.
Pain and sadness brings us closer to others if we let it. It brings us closer to God. And, though it may sound cliché, it truly helps us appreciate the joyful moments.
As night fell during my ride home last week, I found myself feeling good about feeling sad. I was at peace with sadness and grateful that my sadness had inspired me to pray and meditate. I learned that what makes sadness feel ‘bad’ to us is our attempts to avoid it at all costs. Peace, contentment and inspiration comes to us when we choose to live in and accept the moment whether we judge that moment as good or bad.