For about 90% of my life, I have been smiley to a fault. I rarely cried as a kid, I can always find a reason to laugh, and I attach like a magnet to the places, people, and things that make me happy. This perma-lightheart has always been one of my strengths, but of course, every strength has it's corresponding weakness: I still, as a 30 year old woman, struggle with how to be sad. This might sound odd...but go with me here.
There have been a few short periods in my life when I have been desperately, deeply sad. They've been brought on by various things...general existential angst, soul-crushing breakups, periods of painful transition, feeling helpless in the face of impending doom around the world. Each time I entered one of these periods I felt scared because I didn't know how to live through it well. I didn't know how to have perspective about sadness, or soothe myself, or take care of myself. I didn't know how to be sad without judging it. Sadness was a something-is-off feeling to me, like some foreign thing had taken up camp in my soul. I always treated sadness like a sickness: when I get sick or injured I get deeply frustrated with my body, and spend every drop of energy obsessing about getting back to "normal" again, completely missing the point that my body needs to feel what it feels...probably needs to slow down for a minute, probably needs the nutrients in that chicken soup, probably needs the healing that comes from sickness.
Well, guess what? I'm still learning here. I went through a few weeks of real sadness earlier this spring, and I tried to treat it differently this time. I tried to listen to my soul and acknowledge all of its angst, and sit with it patiently instead of feeling afraid and frustrated by it. Tried to remove the judgement of it, and just let it be. It was not easy. I'm not going to pretend it was. But I did find a few things that were deeply helpful, including....surprise.....MUSIC.
I was on a walk listening to an episode of NPR's Code Switch (which is a truly phenomenal podcast BTW), and a guest on the show mentioned the song "Trouble In Mind" by Nina Simone. They cut to the track, and all of a sudden I was crying on the sidewalk. The lightbulb went off and I marched home to make myself a playlist which I named after my favorite line from that song: "I won't be blue always." Because that's the key: I've learned I can feel blue, and let it wash over me, and be okay with it, as long as I remind myself that it's never forever. The dawn always comes. The knowledge & reminder that sadness is not permanent is what helped me move through this spring with as much calm as I could.
If you're in a season of sadness, this one is for you.
You won't be blue always, but while you are I believe these songs will provide some comfort.