On experiencing moments of joy. Plus, feeling sad is not a bad thing.
I want to start off this newsletter by expressing how obsessed I am with Riz Ahmed.
When finding out about his recent marriage, I spent too much time stalking his wife, who is obviously an absolute fucking angel and what do you know, a genius too. She also looks like she's super kind and giving and very assured of herself in the greatest way possible.
The only thing that annoyed me a little was that moment when Riz fixed her hair on the red carpet at the Oscars - it looked fine hun, you don't need to prove that you guys are unbearably cute. We're already hooked.
Alright, now that I've gotten that off my chest I'm ready to move on to the main topic of today's newsletter.
The other day I went for a run at 7am, which never happens by the way. The light was picture perfect, the streets were empty, the birds were chirping, and there were a group of friends, all butt naked, about to jump into the river Amstel.
As I stood there looking at the scenery, catching my breath and listening to Daughter by Four Tet (or maybe it was Justin Bieber’s new album?), all these positive emotions and memories rushed over me, and I suddenly felt an immense amount of joy. The kind that makes you want to shout: I AM ALIVE! I AM CONNECTED TO EVERYONE AROUND ME! LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL! This feeling lasts for like a minute, maybe even less, but it's so pure and wonderful.
I have these moments from time to time. I think this happens when I allow myself to be completely present, which I find really, really hard.
I was thinking about this the other day, about how life is made up of these small moments of joy. To me these moments feel like mental climaxes — built up by positive thoughts, environments, music, people, staring at my dog. To be honest they usually happen when I'm alone. These sudden bursts of joy don't come often, I don't think they're supposed to. But when they do, I embrace them.
Do you know what I'm talking about or am I sounding like a lunatic? Just imagine being so connected to the present that you forget to take a picture of whatever you're experiencing with your phone, you may even forget you have a phone. You just feel light and… peaceful.
OK, I don't want to sound like a happiness guru, or make it seem like I have the key to living a zen life or whatever. All I'm saying is, being someone who's really good at feeling miserable, I can also really appreciate those short bursts of ecstasy.
But speaking of misery... As a spokesperson for sadness, I would just like to say that feeling down is just as magical and important as feeling happy — if not more. I don't know why our society puts so much pressure on us all being happy all the time and gives sadness such a bad rep. Being sad is not a bad thing!
Although I do understand that some sadnesses are too great to bear, my biggest and most meaningful learnings and awakenings have come out of heartbreaks and loneliness. Plus, it's a fact that songs sound a lot better when you're going through some stuff.
I wanted to include some sort of deep, philosophical quote here to sound intellectual. And actually, when I was going through the thousands of newsletters I receive in my inbox, I did find an essay that expressed exactly this: the beauty of melancholia.
In a letter that dates back to August 12th, 1904, Austrian writer and poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, writes:
"You have had many and great sadnesses, which passed. And you say that even this passing was hard for you and put you out of sorts. But, please, consider whether these great sadnesses have not rather gone right through the center of yourself? Whether much in you has not altered, whether you have not somewhere, at some point of your being, undergone a change while you were sad? … Were it possible for us to see further than our knowledge reaches, and yet a little way beyond the outworks of our divining, perhaps we would endure our sadnesses with greater confidence than our joys. For they are the moments when something new has entered into us, something unknown; our feelings grow mute in shy perplexity, everything in us withdraws, a stillness comes, and the new, which no one knows, stands in the midst of it and is silent.
The more still, more patient and more open we are when we are sad, so much the deeper and so much the more unswervingly does the new go into us, so much the better do we make it ours, so much the more will it be our destiny, and when on some later day it “happens” (that is, steps forth out of us to others), we shall feel in our inmost selves akin and near to it. And that is necessary. It is necessary — and toward this our development will move gradually — that nothing strange should befall us, but only that which has long belonged to us.
So you must not be frightened … if a sadness rises up before you larger than any you have ever seen; if a restiveness, like light and cloud-shadows, passes over your hands and over all you do. You must think that something is happening with you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand; it will not let you fall. Why do you want to shut out of your life any agitation, any pain, any melancholy, since you really do not know what these states are working upon you?"
Pretty fucking beautiful right?
That's it from me. Now do yourselves a favour and go cry in the shower.