When The Tart Gets Too Sour

There must have been something atmospheric going on lately, because a rash of people in my life have been struck with melancholia. The Western approach to the blues is about striving; attend a service, do a worksheet, work through your emotions… The idea is to build an arsenal of weapons so robust, an emotional physique so formidable, “bad” emotions will simply flee before they land a first blow.

Sometimes it even works.

But on the two occasions in my life I’ve met people who seemed deeply at peace with themself and their future, they held a different philosophy. I could explain more, but that would be just busywork when Rumi says it better:

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

~ Rumi ~

(The Essential Rumi, version by Coleman Barks)

Is there a poem, a story, a song that helps you know it’s okay to not always be “up”? I’d love to add to my collection.

11 thoughts on “When The Tart Gets Too Sour

  1. Does “It’s My Party (And I’ll Cry If I Want To) by Lesley Gore count? 🙂

    Seriously, though, I find that there isn’t just one particular quote, poem, story or song that uplifts me. It seems that I am always “led” to whatever it is that I need to hear at a particular time.

    I think perhaps it is difficult to put a finger on what helps because we Westerners tend to be so private about those kinds of issues. Whether it is full-blown depression or just being a bit blue, generally, people really do not want to hear about it. It is like the Victorian view on sex: “We don’t care what you do, as long as you don’t do it on the street so the horses can see it.”

    I think that culturally, that sensibility is changing, thank goodness. But wouldn’t it be great if we had Dial-A-Hug?

    1. To some degree I agree with you. IMHO, with the advent of Oprah and other talk shows, we’ve been left with a lot of awareness of people suffering, yet haven’t necessarily been given the tools to help them. That can lead to helplessness in the listener.

      At the same time, we’ve lost many of the traditional institutions that used to provide support.

      And if one is Zen about it, one would merely accept that depression, helplessness and aloneness are transient emotions that will fade sooner if one doesn’t panic upon experiencing them. That’s why I love me some Rumi.

  2. Oh I love me some Rumi. Especially on a Monday morning. At first I was afraid you were going to try to make us exercise again to improve our moods! LOL.

    I have a collection of sad music that I listen to when I really want to indulge my glum moods. “Stephanie Says” by Velvet Underground leads the pack.

  3. I have an electronic sticky note on the side bar of my desktop that reads “Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark.” It’s a quote from George Iles. I put it there when I was going through a rough patch, and I left it to view daily.

  4. I do not have a hostess gift with me, unfortunately. 🙂 I wish I did.

    I only have an observation: so many people view the “inconvenient” emotions as unwelcome houseguests, and do everything they can to send them packing. And it’s understandable, in one way, because what if we indulge them, and then they become tenants, not just houseguests?

    But it seems unfair to decide there are “good” emotions and “bad” emotions, and not let each one have its full range of expression. Not that I want to be unhappy or angry or anything for a long time. However, it feels like there is a reason for their appearance, even if it is just to learn how to handle them when they show up next time.

    Thanks again for another thought-provoking post. And thanks for letting me indulge my mental meanderings!

    1. Heh. I can see a whooole gift shop idea coming out of this: rage soap. Anger deodorant. Jealousy talcum powder. As long as we don’t stock the lethargy lease we’re good. 😉

      No indulgence here, Donna. Your thoughts echo my own. I’d suggest, in fact, for anyone who pursues an artistic path, it’s probably both desirable and essential to experience the full range of human emotion. (As if we have any choice, anyway.)

  5. Music mostly just makes me wallow, but sometimes it’s what I want to do. Exercise and writing help me find solutions, if there are any. Sometimes there aren’t.

    I have some crazy people in my life that I love (crazy as insane, not crazy whoopee) and so have had some growth opportunities through things like 12-step programs (Alanon to be specific). There is a great deal of wisdom to be gained from people who love addicts:

    “The only way past it is through it.”
    “Is this my stuff? If it’s not my stuff, let it go.”
    “Wisdom is knowledge passed through the heart.”
    “This too will pass.”

    And the ever helpful serenity prayer.

    When i think about it, I’d rather NOT be wise, as wisdom is hard-earned, but since I am, might as well put it to use, eh?

    1. “When i think about it, I’d rather NOT be wise, as wisdom is hard-earned, but since I am, might as well put it to use, eh?”

      Amen, sistah! And 12-step programs are a great source of information about detachment.

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