When I was little I wanted to read the sad parts. Matthew’s death in Anne of Green Gables, Charlotte’s demise in Charlotte’s Web and the “final flight” of the young heroine in The Birds’ Christmas Carol all held me spellbound. I would read them over and over again till I felt a little sick, and then let go to the tears. I would have a real good bawl. Then I would put the books away till I needed them again. I was fascinated with sad.
I guess you could say that my childhood was pretty much carefree and fun. I did well in school. I had lots of friends at my birthday parties. My mom made delicious brownie cake. My dad took us on amazing vacations every summer. My sisters passed down their clothes to me (and these of course were the height of style and coolness because they had worn them). I had a comfortable house to live in with a variety of pets and toys. Yeah, pretty much the classic middle-class life.
So why was I sneaking down to the basement to read the saddest chapters I could find? ‘Cause I needed some of the sad and bad. I needed to cry. I wanted the heartache and frustration and fury. I still do. I don’t want to be Little Miss Sunshine or Pollyanna ‘cause that would blind me to the negative. And then I wouldn’t try to change or grow or advocate or support or care. If I live in a bubble, I will burst. If I read the sad stuff, I will stop and be still. I will cry. I will think. I will be provoked. I will try to make a difference. And I will have tears that are sad and happy because I have learned something.
I wish for you, too just a little bit of sadness mixed with sensitivity and love.
“When it gets dark enough, you can see the stars.”
Charles A Beard
©Conni Cartlidge, 2007