(So this is a lengthy post but hang in there as you read, guys!! It’s worth at least a skim!)
We all go through times when the expectations and deadlines of this world are crippling. There are times when nothing is enjoyable and simply the thought of going through the motions for just one more day is unbearable. Sadness is a strange thing, and is irreparable when you let it be. Sadness can be one of the most damaging things to the human soul, if allowed. Sadness isn’t something forced upon us, but it is a natural human reaction to a change of plans. Knowing that life will change due to a specific event renders emotions of denial, disappointment and anger. But letting these feelings completely deplete you and dwelling on the plans for the future can be devastating to life.
In the The Bell Jar, we observe Esther as she continues going through the motions of life, never really being present and refusing to decide a path for her future. It’s almost as if she’s becoming numb to events around her and people walking in and out of her life, which is terrifying. I assume that her position was brought on by a great disappointment in the plans she had for herself and her life. She’s purely not happy. The fact that she is resistant to choosing a path shows that she’s afraid of the disappointment that seems all too normal for her. Humans have a tendency to resist change because they’ve become comfortable with how things are and how things are going to go. Esther has experienced that this isn’t how life works and her sadness is her way of expressing that she’s not really okay with how life works. Sadness is almost her rebellion to the typical roller-coaster of life.
Sadness is something that isn’t forced upon us by anyone or anything. As stated before, it’s a natural reaction to a change of plans. Everyone has a vision of the future. Maybe the vision is the roars in the stadium when walking out onto the freshly mowed baseball field, or maybe it’s the child who looks so much like his father running around the house while dinner is being prepared. Maybe it’s that hug from mom at graduation when she whispers, “Congratulations, I love you”, or that walk with dad down the aisle towards Mr. Perfect, who will obviously be the perfect husband and father. Whatever the vision is, it’s there. The problem with visions are that reality doesn’t always agree, and here is where we have the option to choose sadness.
Maybe the vision was ruined by a car accident injuring the pitching arm, or infertility. Maybe it was ruined by the passing of a loved one, or it turned out that “Mr. Perfect” wasn’t so perfect after all. Clearly these events can crush the imaginary events that were scheduled, and by human nature, it’s disappointing. These events can be devastating if we were latched tightly onto those visions as if they were memories waiting to happen. This is a time to let go of the previous vision that was grasped so tightly. It’s time to see things as they are and move on. It’s time to create a new vision of how your future will look now with the variable of the change included. This is also perfect opportunity for sadness to creep in and consume who someone is. It’s easy to let sadness take over and allow it to become the new normal and the new comfortable… because it’s easy. It’s what comes naturally. In Esther’s case, the sadness of her life has taken hold of her and she continues to be completely okay with that. She doesn’t take any steps towards happiness, because she fears feeling this unreal disappointment becoming fresh again.
Latching onto ideas of the future is necessary for happiness. While settling with sadness is easy and safe, grasping a new plan for the future creates hope. Hope is vital when pursuing happiness. Maybe a new vision could be hearing the roars of the stadium while coaching the baseball game, or being blessed with a child who didn’t have the best life in Ethiopia. Maybe it could be knowing that mom would’ve been proud and she’s watching from a healthier place, or realizing that travel is a passion that’s hard to pursue with “Mr. Perfect” always right there anyways; maybe our plans aren’t always realistic, but they stir hope in our souls and help us to keep pursuing something. The day we lock away any plans, dreams, and goals for the future is the day we lock away motivation, hope, happiness.
Change, change, change. Going, going, going. Life doesn’t have to stop until death. While that seems like a “duh” statement, it’s true. Life continues to happen even if it appears to have stopped because everything that seemed to be life is changing and gone. To choose to be sad is to choose to live dead in a lively world. Sadness is the decision to not accept a new reality and resistance the happiness that’s to come from any current circumstance. Just because change isn’t accepted doesn’t mean that it won’t happen. Denial and sadness about something doesn’t diminish the fact that it happened. It is what it is, and as people we can choose to accept the new, incorporate it into our vision, and move on or we can chose to reminisce about how things were prior to the here and now. Reality check: we LIVE in the here and now. We LIVE today. We LIVED yesterday and we HOPE of living tomorrow. Aimlessly living without any desires KILLS us. Slowly but surely, we begin to die from the lack of pursuance to live.
Don’t get stuck like Esther; continue to live. Resist the path that’s the easiest to go along with, because it won’t create happiness. Sure, the feeling of disappointment will never occur again, because there’s nothing to be disappointed about. But remember that happiness can be created when a vision becomes reality and our plans pan out just like we thought they would, and not all plans go wrong. So without an optimistic attitude about the blessings that have come along with a change and accepting them into a new vision of the future, happiness is unattainable.
If you’re always looking back at the bright colors of the past, you will never see how much brighter the colors are now.