Sally Sparrow: I love old things. They make me feel sad.
Kathy Nightingale: What’s good about sad?
Sally Sparrow: It’s happy for deep people.
I have been writing in my writing-journal for the last hour. When I write in my journal I put every thought in my head down on the page. At least, that is the idea. When the process clicks it is seamless. Often I do not know my thoughts until I read them on the screen in front of me. My brain, the keyboard, and the screen are part of a single closed system. My thoughts have momentum and tangible definition. It is effortless.
Right now it is not effortless. As I type my fingertips slip into a gap between my mind and the keyboard. I pause for minutes at a time as thoughts swirl around my consciousness. When I look up at the screen it is empty. All of my best thoughts slip into that gap. Nothing makes it to the page. I get this way, sometimes. When I am sad.
I am not a sad person. There is a great difference between poetic sadness and depression sadness. When you stand at the apex of a bridge overlooking the ocean during sunset, and the feel of the wind and the sight in front of you makes ache in the center of your chest, that is poetic sadness. When you can’t get out of bed because the world seems pointless and stupid, and you can’t go back to sleep because everything is so completely awful and you are useless and nothing matters, that is depression sadness.
Poetic sadness has a beauty to it, even when it is caused by legitimately terrible things. When my dad died I had moments when the sadness was nearly overwhelming, and moments where it made me love life in a way that love by itself never can. My mother, on the other hand, could barely function. She got through it only by having very strong support. More than three years later it doesn’t take much to make her cry about it.
Naturally, I am a happy person. I am one of the happiest people you are likely to meet, if I am ever lucky enough to meet you. I recover from difficult situations easily. When bad times come I retain my ability to joke and help other people feel better. Often, I experience spontaneous joy. For the most part this is a very good thing. I am very fortunate to have this particular brain chemistry. I am not inclined towards depressed. On the other hand, I do not deal with sadness well. Both kinds of sadness, when they really hit me, are crippling. Even the good kind.
It is difficult to write when I am sad. I sometimes indulge in the idea that my expressive ability would be better if I had more tragedy in my life. But when I experience tragedy, even when it is small and personal, my expressive ability diminishes to almost nothing. I have beautiful ideas, but I cannot get them out. My thoughts dig their glittering claws into the tender parts of my brain and drag me down. They drag me down into a swirling place of satin-blue mist and thin starlight. It is achingly beautiful, down here. But I am alone.
I know I won’t be down here for long.