January 17. “Sorrow makes us all children again, destroys all difference of intellect. The wisest knows nothing.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
I am not a person who is often without words. Usually I can talk about anything, with anyone. I can expound on what I’ve learned, and listen to what they are thinking and feeling as we get through things together. But in times of sorrow, all that I have learned in life seems to vanish from within, and like Emerson I become more childlike.
Children do not deal with things as adults do. As adults we want to put reason into the world, we went to know why things are so, and we want to feed our urge to control. We want to set the agenda in life, and then manage our way through it. This seems to be the way most people of Western culture act. As adults, we want order in life.
Children don’t have the lived experience to apply to situations. For them, almost everything is new and uncharted territory. They see the world as a huge, often confusing mess of things going on around them. As a result, they feel and express their emotions far more freely. When they are sad, they cry. When they love, they hug. When they are joyous, they shout. And when they don’t know what to make of things, they just let it happen. Children don’t have the same urge to put order to all things that we adults do.
When we are faced with sorrow and difficulty, many of us go back to this child-like view. It is in times like this that we need to let go of our need to control and make sense of the world. We need to release ourselves from the self-induced burden of knowing and just embrace the ambiguous. We need to learn to just be in the moment.
Today my reflection is on the power of not being in power. Today I am reflecting on the need to sometimes just let things happen and to allow whatever feelings may come. Today I am focusing on letting go.
Easier said than done…
Make like Frozen, and Let it go? Nancy is correct, so much easier said than done. I’m trying hard too!
This made me think of my reaction to my father passing away. I never shed a tear at the time, because I was too worried about my mother’s health. I felt it was my responsibility to be the rock that people could lean on, put up a front. For me, the sorrow forced me to grow up, in a way – as I felt I didn’t have the luxury of breaking down and letting go of that control.
My mother and father were a rare breed in this age, as in for them, till death do us part really was literal. They had been together since they were 21, right up to when my father died at 62. Can imagine what my mother was like during the first year afterwards.
It’s better now and as I’m going through my journey of improving my own life, I’ve noticed my emotions and repressed sorrows are more prone to getting on the surface – I can find myself shedding a tear at times without a good reason for it – just a passing thought or a song.
Though the sad thoughts are replaced by happy memories and utter respect for having had him in my life, as time goes by.
Letting go of your control is easy in times of sorrow, but gaining acceptance to what happened is hard. They do not walk hand in hand, most of the times, in my eyes at least.
Thank you for sharing such a personal reflection here. Everyone grieves in their own way, and in their own time. You had to be that granite monolith in the early days after your dad’s death. Now you are able to allow your feelings to process.
I am not completely sure that acceptance is ever fully realized. I have not completely accepted the deaths of some people in my life with whom I was very close, though some died decades ago. I think we learn to cope with the feelings and move on with our lives, but we never forget, we never really get over it, and I don’t think we ever completely accept.