I miss the comfort in being sad
Happiness is like the butterfly. So beautiful, so elusive. You keep trying to hold onto it, and it keeps trying to fly away, making you so alert and skeptical that sometimes it just leaves no room for being happy itself. There are people who have got everything; there is nothing wrong with their life at the moment, and yet, merely the struggle to keep this state going on and the fear of some imminent jolt ready to shake them out of this reverie doesn’t let them relax awhile.
Sadness, on the other hand, is more comfortable. It’s not running away anywhere. It’s there so firmly placed, for you to slouch inside it. Yes, the sorrow needs to be done away with, but there is no hurry. That’s why you must have seen sad people sitting quietly in a room, or drinking for hours together, as if there is nothing to be disposed of. You are, at least temporarily, dispensed from every job in the queue. And if your father is a rich man, it might even be permanently, as in the case of Devdas, who keeps drinking and idling throughout the movie, on the pretext of his sadness. You have the luxury of being in the moment, which is so rarely available these days.
On other fronts, happiness requires so much energy to counter people’s envies and to showcase it by smiling, describing it to people and updating your status on the social networking sites. If someone else is sad, there is the unsaid responsibility on the upper-handed happy guy, which is you, to show your concern for him.
You must not be too extravagant in showing your happiness, but being extravagant is really what you want. There is the excuse of sharing your happiness through parties. You don’t mind even when you know that these people have nothing to do with it, because even your main concern is not to share rather to show your happiness.
Sometimes, my father asks me to attend to a wedding invitation on his behalf. I haven’t even once met the people who are getting tied in the holy knot. So, there is no question of my being happy for them. Not that I am sad. It’s just that how could one (excepting poets) harbor any emotion (excepting pity), be it happiness, grief, sympathy or envy for someone whom one doesn’t know. I go there to relish the food, and I know that most of the people there, filling their plates with shahi paneer, dal makhni, raita, buttered naan and swallowing down their throats, one after another glass of expensive liquor or juices, are no better than me in this regard. They might know the wedding couple, but not many of them feel any happiness in particular. Some of them, to make it worse, might even be envious.
It’s a wonderful game, and everyone’s got to play it. These people would bring gifts, get photographed with the couple, even make a point to be somewhere in the video reel, would meet the parents of the couple, flash smiles and congratulate them. The father of the bridegroom or the bride, a sensible man, easily sees through this facade, but yet he acknowledges their congratulations and their feeling joyous in his happiness. He is not concerned whether or not they are actually happy for him, because even he wants to show it rather than to share it, through the big, fat weddings which are getting more pompous with every passing season. So even when I introduce myself to him a moment ago, the courteous man says how happy he is to have me there. He doesn’t express a tint of disbelief in my exultation on seeing his son or daughter getting married, even though I have known their names only this evening after reading it on the invitation card.
Sadness allows sulking. Contrary to happiness, people don’t mind much even if you are extravagant in showcasing your sadness – the symptoms of a self-centered, masochist society. It evokes sympathy for you from other people, and in turn, they draw much elation from it. No wonder all of us know at least one person who is addicted to self-pitying.
Here, you could choose the game to be not so elaborate as there are no major obligations or performances to put up. The subtleness or maturity you are required to show is accomplished by your saying “I am fine”. Even if people know that you are not fine, this is enough excuse for them to stray away, if they neither care for you nor draw much amusement. And then, the garb of maturity could be thrown away by smoking, wailing or crying in solitude.
There are no serious accusations of your being selfish or arrogant on your not sharing your sadness, as in the case of happiness. How often do we hear “What man! You didn’t even treat me.” for excelling in an exam, a wedding or a birthday! I have seen people sulking on this account, going to the extent of discontinuing ties with others, because the other person forgot to invite them to a major party. But it happens so seldom that someone says, “Hey, if you were not doing good, you should have told me. Let’s talk it out.” and really means it. Of course, there are the courteous remarks blowing out of proportion, like “I am so angry with you. You didn’t think of me to be close enough to share this. This is very bad on your part.” These courtesies, where your sadness is less important than your making them feel close, are so easily penetrable. You fend off these sweet, mild accusations with, “Yeah, I should have.” Then, they would give this much clearer indication of their disinclination by saying, “I hope you are fine now.” And you won’t let their hopes turn out into nothing. Even if you are still sad, you add with a wry, “Yeah, I am good. (You hope right.)"
Happiness is equated to optimism, high-spiritedness and all that positive stuff, whereas it’s considered sadistic to be sad. It’s not acknowledged. One has so many people relishing the food at weddings, but how many out of them, care to give even a call, leave alone meeting them, when the same couple gets divorced. There are not many performances to put up, when you are sad. That’s why sadness is comfortable, like the still waters of a lake. It requires not much energy, not much struggle.
In this article, I (this does refer to me) intended to be neither optimistic nor pessimistic, rather to just acknowledge the two major emotions, without being biased to either of them, and to observe them in connection with the human society. I would like to reflect upon them, as to what could or should be, but that has to be essentially a part of another article.