I'm an average man. Just one with an overactive blog. And though I have an always happy outlook, it is a very recent development. I have seen the other side of life, a few times. I talk more about my hopes, dreams and positive expectations because sharing those ones will send me into a deep depression. Even the memory of them wipes all smiles from my face in an instant. They are experiences I struggle to find the lesson in. The only good side to them is that they made me more resilient, able to weather other sorrows better.
I think our life experiences are the food our mind feeds on. And just as a balanced diet will require eating not just sweet foods, but also not-so sweet foods. In fact, the foods that do us the most good are the bitter ones. So also is it with having a balanced mind diet. It will require both good and bad life experiences. The truth is, it's the sorrowful moments we pass through that make us the strong and respectable person we are.
My dad loves saying this wonderful Yoruba proverb, "A young man can have as many clothes as an old man, but never as many rags." It's much deeper than the English translation makes it look. It means regardless of what you have or know, an old man has made more mistakes. He has seen more of the other side. And that's the biggest distinction between a young man and an old man.
Experiencing only the sweet life experiences is like feeding on chocolate, pizza and burger everyday. You will be happy eating them but they will cause you more harm than you can imagine. You'll become obese, lacking some other vital nutrients that can only be gotten from non-sweet foods and possibly end-up with a health disease that will be named after you. It's much worse with the mind. You will lack the very gift that makes old age a delight. You will lack strength of mind, of character and resilience. You will always look like an over-sized teenager.
The sorrowful moments we encounter in life are like the multivitamin supplements we take, the dark green vegetables we force ourselves to eat, the no-sugar drinks we take, the fruits diet we go on, and the bitter pills we swallow. They are the more important experiences in life.
Sometimes, we do not see the value in them. And the ones I find most annoying are the ones that teach us a lesson we already know, lessons we've been taught over and over again. Experiences we can't see any value in. Just misery and sorrow. Experiences that take from us more than it can ever give. Experiences that send us down to hell and leave us to crawl our way up. Experiences that mute every joy we have and wouldn't leave us alone. Experiences that we can't share and we can't forget. Sometimes, they don't leave scars; they turn us into a big scar.
And how do you handle them?
They provide us our purest moments of truth. It's said that behind every smile, there's a hidden frown. Behind every laughter, there is silent cry. Behind every joy, there's an unseen sadness. It could be in form of, "If only so-and-so was here...", "If only this happened before that...", "If only I had that in addition..." True moments of joy are very rare. But behind every sorrow, there's no pretense. Everything is clear: true friends, false friends, and hidden enemies. You see them all. All pretense gone. But best of all, you see the true you too. All your assumptions about yourself are tested. Your priorities come out clear. Life suddenly becomes a nexus of simple needs and clear dreams.
The right way to handle sorrow is the same way you handle prescribed drugs. You brave up to it, swallow everything, don't blame the doctor or the mosquito, and you try to prevent a future occurrence.