Wisdom is comprised of many things, not the least of which is a complexity of sadness. This represents the reckoning, the measure of our misfortunes, as opposed to the sorrow and despair of yielding to them. Of course, wisdom also includes knowledge, understanding, perception, experience, compassion and perhaps inspiration―yet it is this leveraging of our woes, the willingness to be present with the disappointment and pain of a meaningful life―that opens the doorways to enlightenment.
We are ultimately defined by our challenges; we either succumb, or we overcome. This is the difference between victory and defeat. We recognize the heart-rending nature of our existence and walk bravely through it, or we attempt to hide away in the depths of the psyche, where the fear of feeling sadness festers into despondency.
This complexity of sadness is acknowledgment of the human condition. We accept it or resist it. Wisdom does not exist in the dark cave of the mind; rather, it arises by entering that cave and lighting candles for the heartache that dwells there. Wisdom sheds not tears for the pain of broken promises and shattered dreams, but for the neglect of self that resides in that squalid darkness―the inner children that have been left behind, the joy and whimsy that has been withheld from the world.
Wisdom is empathy for lost innocence, and innocents. Instead of agitators and troublemakers and brooding malcontents, it sees child-like wonder and awe, wounded and bewildered, relegated to the shadows of subjugated grief and loss. Personas of aggression, sarcasm, cynicism and resistance are viewed as manifestations of the still dark walls of that inner cave, bastions of fear and disillusionment.
Recognizing and understanding the disenchantment of failed ideals and fallen idols, abandonment of hope, the volatility of subdued rage, and the anguish of isolation, are rites of passage within ourselves, inner journeys that continue to define us throughout our lives. Wisdom eschews the fearful fissures and grottos of the mind by courageously embracing hardship, however calamitous or ill-fated, with gratitude instead of disdain. Thus, an enduring character and self-regard―a complexity of sadness―is forged into a candle-lit pathway of existence, one that casts a warm glow into the shadows and welcomes those who linger there.
©2017 by Shawn Quinlivan, C.Ht. & Cathexis Therapeutic Imagery. All rights reserved.