The Sadness of Things


[Christmas thoughts ~burning woman~ by Sha’Tara]

Did you notice it? The Christmas hype is already on. Lights are going up. Commercial displays are popping up. I don’t know what’s on TV or radio, I don’t watch and don’t listen to commercial media but I’m sure it is already going strong. “Buy, buy, buy… buy, buy, buy, Buying all the way… Oh what fun it is to buy, and fill our cars with stuff!” (To the tune of Jingle Bells).

Personally I have always liked the so-called Christmas season. It began as a child when our very Catholic teachers inculcated the concept of self-sacrifice as the meaning of Christmas. I won’t bore you with the Christ born in a stable, a manger for a crib story, but it’s not such a bad myth, not if you have the background for it and are able to think for yourself.

As I grew up I was surprised to discover that Christmas, even among fellow believers, was really a time for permissible “debauchery” whether in drinking or in sexual promiscuity at parties that lasted through the night and certainly in ostentatious consumerism. Maybe I was a “tight ass” but I didn’t hold to that sort of behaviour. Oh, I didn’t say much about it, but inside, I felt cheated. It’s like I’d been lied to when I was a child. Christmas to me was the baby Jesus. He wasn’t so much the Son of God and the great to be Redemptor or Saviour. Jesus was, according to my version of the myth, the child of very poor people, people who essentially had nothing. Jesus represented all the poverty of all of humanity all across the globe. His presence didn’t mean a miraculous intervention in the ever-frustrating affairs of men. It meant a challenge to me to understand.

To compensate, then, for what I saw of the horror of materialism, I created a “proper” sense of Christmas for myself. It wasn’t something that could be shared with friends, the few I had that came and went, or associates in school, and later at work. It was a “me” that sought to flesh out the meaning of Christmas as I had been (I reasoned) properly instructed about. The challenge was to resist the temptation of commercialism and focus on its diametric opposite: self-sacrifice through selfless service to others. The challenge was for me to become what the mythological story of Jesus had depicted.

When we open ourselves up to the world as a compassionate and empathetic person, we are met with a literal heart-breaking tidal wave of sorrow. Whatever can be said of man’s world it remains only too true that it is a very sad place. So for me, the “spirit of Christmas” message is the sadness of things.

Having lived my life in a sort of voluntary service of one sort or another, I don’t feel any need to go looking for happiness. Happiness certainly has flirted with me many a time, and many a time I have reciprocated. What’s wrong with a little flirting if there is no intent to take it further? But happiness is a dangerous emotion. It doesn’t want you to stop at the flirtation, it wants you to become a believer. It wants you to dedicate your life to chasing your own tail.

Happiness in that sense, and it is mostly always in that sense, is a chimera; it’s a lie. If you have to go looking for it; if you have to make it happen, it’s a lie. If it just happens to you here and there as you live your life as impeccably as you know how, following a life goal you set for yourself and if you are not being dishonest towards your life goal then there is nothing wrong with feeling happy. It’s an unexpected bonus. But that’s all. Spend it and forget it. The poison activates while going to look for more of that emotion. That is called greed.

So back to the simple theme of this essay: sadness. Having a choice between happiness or sadness as my own expression of Christmas I choose sadness. Sadness is the foundation of wisdom. What good is wisdom to the selfish, the pleasure seekers? A bother at best. If however one seeks to truly understand “the condition” of the world, sadness is the path. Sadness, not to be confused with despair which is just pleasure-seeking turned inside out, leads to deep introspection where honesty and humility become the guides. Sadness, I have found, is a great gift, misunderstood and maligned by a world plummeting into gross materialism, spiritual degeneration, depravity, pornography and sodomy.

There is a tendency in this “western” post-Christian society to blame the leadership for its problems. Yes, the leadership is quasi-absolutely corrupt, no doubt about that. But we need to realize it is us who are the movers and shakers. We insist we live in these great democracies. What is a democracy? For one thing it’s government of the people, by the people, for the people. Is that true of any of our forms of government? No, of course not, but we insist on believing it is true, we insist on spreading the propaganda. Hence and therefore if there is a problem with government leadership, the problem belongs to all of us. No, we cannot have our cake and eat it too.

If our leadership is corrupt it’s because we are just as equally corrupt, one and all. Put the “blame” where it belongs; be done with it; stop pretending and living in denial. We cannot say to ourselves, “There is nothing I can do about it” because there most certainly is! That however is an unpleasant fact. So, let’s just blame. Why not? It’s easy and there’s no personal responsibility involved.

This is the time of year when, by observation, everybody should feel a deep and intense sadness for this world. How can any self-respecting person chase after an emotion as ephemeral and evanescent as happiness? How can any intelligent person think they can buy it? I’ll tell you who does: every slave of the marketplace. The happiness of a slave does not last. It is always replaced by an intense time of loss and grief. Wait for them. If you listen quietly you can hear them goose-stepping down the street at midnight.

27 thoughts on “The Sadness of Things

      1. Mr. Militant Negro

        🍗🤶🎅🎀☃️🥂🍷🎉🧢🌹 Anytime and always. You are very welcome.

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thanks for your comment, Lisa. Sometimes it’s just “good to know” we are not alone in how we feel about things that are not usually mentioned, or considered not politically correct. We’re not supposed to feel sad at Christmas, right?

      1. Lisa R. Palmer

        We’re not “supposed to” do (or know, or think, or feel) a lot of things we do. But such is the path we have chosen for ourselves… Self-determination at its most poignant point…

  1. poeturja

    Completely agree. I’m melancholy at this time every year, just an unknowable sadness that you have clarified a bit…

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thanks for your comment, Clarissa. I think that whole Christmas hype is terrible bad energy and is dragging all of us down, like a poison that suddenly bursts, like a bad flu, once a year. If we could start feeling it like the poison it is, then we could quite simply avoid all of the hype and kill this insanity, for insanity it most certainly is.

  2. kertsen

    Love seeketh not to please,
    Not for itself hath any care,
    But for another gives its ease,
    And builds a Heaven in Hell’s despair.

    So sung a little Clod of Clay
    Trodden with the cattle’s feet,
    But a Pebble of the brook
    Warbled out these metres meet:

    Love seeketh only self to please,
    To bind another to its delight,
    Joys in another’s loss of ease,
    And builds a Hell in Heaven’s despite.

    Penned by a great visionary but which one shall we chose? or shall we reject both ?

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thanks for the comment. Good point. From personal experience, I reject the entire concept of love, so the answer is neither. Now then, having cleansed my spirit-mind from an interloper, what shall I do? For surely I would not want to go through life cold and uncaring until I die with hardly any difference of state. So I thought on this and discovered compassion. Everything began to make sense then. Why not care? Why not get involved? Why get tangled in reciprocal dead end relationships? Why spend precious time condemning those very evil things I cannot help also contributing to? When we seek freedom, those who do, that is, we are not looking at a permanent feel good materialistic life style. We are looking at detachment from the things that suck us in. We are looking at ways to express our greater humanity. That translates as service unto others, human or otherwise. Selflessness. The antithesis to consumerism. We are looking for authenticity in meaningfulness. That gives us joy. That is what I believe we are “meant to be” if there be such a state. If not, we create it and live it. Consequences? Regardless of choice of lifestyle, we will go “the way of all flesh.” I would rather fertilize a lovely white rose than a clump of deadly nitghtshade.

  3. Rosaliene Bacchus

    With you all the way on this, Sha’Tara. I’ve never been a seeker of happiness, but have experienced happiness during unexpected moments along my journey. In the face of so much suffering everywhere across this planet, I can only feel sadness. But this is not a sadness that debilitates. Rather, it’s a sadness that unites me with people everywhere. Compassion and empathy.

    I’ve never thought of sadness as the foundation of wisdom, but it makes sense. Who seeks truth when life is good?

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Quote: “But this is not a sadness that debilitates. Rather, it’s a sadness that unites me with people everywhere. Compassion and empathy.” That sums it up perfectly, thank you Rosaliene.

  4. Phil Huston

    Sadness is the overwhelming burden of compassion. What we see in someone else, a world gone mad, is their sorrow, their pain. Sadness is the manifestation of compassion. Reverie is not an answer, neither is creativity. But the solace of both provide renewal. When compassion disappears, so will sadness. And how sad a day that will be…

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thanks Phil, for your response, which lines up very well with Rosaliene’s thoughts on it. Perhaps those of us who have seen, or experienced, the darker side of life can understand this apparent contradiction. Yes indeed, if the day comes when we can no longer feel another, or others’ pain and experience sadness from that touch, that will be a sad day for all.

  5. theburningheart

    Well, I agree with almost all you said, but there’s nothing wrong with happiness, as there’s nothing wrong with sadness.
    How we can know happiness if we never being sad?
    It’s the same emotion just on a different pole.
    And what is more, not dependent on external events to experience it, but an attitude we have to maintain within ourselves, not to be shaken by external factors, as how effective this attitude may be that depends on your practice of it, do not expect great results if you never try it.
    Emotions may seem hard to control, but totally dependent on ourselves, and how well we are prepared to go facing the impermanence of our existence.

    As Epictetus said:

    ‘It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.’

    If you care to read more on my views on the matter check my post:

    The trap of the self, or the limitations of existence, Epictetus Subjective Freedom. June 2014. 🙂

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thank you for your comment. I believe I never wrote, nor did I mean to imply, there was anything “wrong” with happiness. What I wrote, and meant, is the wrong comes from chasing after happiness. If it has to be chased, the chaser is fabricating a fake emotion. It’s natural and normal to have feelings but emotions take those feelings into whole different level. We engage emotions to our own peril. For example comedian Steven Wright says, “I was in love for the first time. I learned a lot. I never thought about committing suicide before.” Funny but true. In-loveness is a powerful “happiness” emotion which can have devastating effects upon termination. There was a feeling called “love” that led to expectations: error!
      Happiness and/or sadness are just feelings until they are sought after. Then they become something else. Happiness becomes a drug the western world has become hooked and dependent on. It is a powerful motive force behind consumerism causing greed. Sadness engaged as an emotion becomes depression, melancholia and can even lead to despair. So we control ourselves, how we deal with our feelings, and we wisely allow the emotions to dissipate into the ether, never engaging them.

      1. theburningheart

        Mille pardons Madame, apparemment je n’ai pas compris ce que vous vouliez expliquer.
        But there’s also no need to chase after happiness, what there is a real need it’s to understand, than in order not to be carried by emotions, we need to be centered in a non swing emotional state.

        And that it’s only attained by a rigurous practice as Epictetus show us in his great little book Enquiridión, how to attain ataraxia (imperturbability), apatheia (freedom from passion), eupatheiai (‘good feelings’), and an awareness of, and capacity to attain, what counts as living as a rational being should. 🙂

      2. Sha'Tara Post author

        Petit probleme, n’est ce pas? Et puis, je suis d’accord avec vous cette fois! Merci pour votre commentaire (regrette, mais je ne trouve pas les accents!!!)

  6. Keith

    Sha’Tara, I enjoyed this. We tend to not accept responsibility for our decisions or lack thereof. I think we live most of our lives through habits, not realizing we can break the paradigm. We also need to be accountable to one another.

    Yes, as you note, we have bad leadership, so what are we going to do about it? We cannot exit the process, as that is precisely what bad leaders want. They want to avoid accountability and responsibility.

    So, we should celebrate the year end and wish peace. But, we should strive to do our best for each other and call out injustice when we see it. Thanks, Keith

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thank you for your comment. Another comment that sums up what I meant to say about taking responsibility- wonderful!

  7. colettebytes

    Yes, I get it… Christmas brings out the worst, and the best in people, but not many actually stop their mindless pursuit of ‘a perfect Christmas,’ and think about how they ‘feel,’ – I’m guessing an awful lot of people will agree with you in retrospect, just a pity they don’t get the compassionate side until after the event. But hey, none of us are perfect. I am in Muslim Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur) at the moment and there are Christmas trees all over the place…it’s all about the money, honey! 😐

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thanks Colette… and if I may ask, what are you doing over there? 🙂 (none of my business, really!) Anyway, yes it is all about the money and that is why we who know this should put on our most “I spurn your happiness chasing” sort of face, and carry on.

      1. colettebytes

        We live on a boat in Summer months…have no house so travel as cheaply as we can to warmer places in winter. That is often housesitting pets which we will be doing in Feb – May
        We were supposed to be volunteering in Thailand (over Christmas) but lack of a Visa (long story) meant we had to leave the country for a while, so we came to Kuala Lumpur and are trying to find some cheap accommodation (not so easy here). That’s it in a nutshell. Travelling light with carry on luggage.

  8. stolzyblog

    Just lovely.

    The snow cleanses, blankets & blankets of it at least in the North, permitting us the option of shifting the gaze reality-ward. An esotericist said this is a critical age of transition, globally. And a time will come soon, maybe only two lifetimes hence, when no human soul will be able, will have the possibility or capacity, to experience pleasure or comfort while just one other is in suffering. Seen in this light, it is a dignity and a step towards what is to come to sense the pervading tragedy we swim within. And somehow an impossible beautiful hope in the trueness of this recognition.

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thanks for that comment. The thought that [quote] ” this is a critical age of transition, globally. And a time will come soon, maybe only two lifetimes hence, when no human soul will be able, will have the possibility or capacity, to experience pleasure or comfort while just one other is in suffering” is not new to me. When I write about compassion, the underlying effect is, of course, for the compassionate being to become a full empath. Once that stage is reached, we must then experience in our own mind what others go through. To be a full empath on this world, at this time, would mean certain and quasi-instant death. It just would not be bearable. Becoming empathetic is in our long-term future however because should mankind refuse to become compassionate, and empathetic, the sentence is termination of the species. Already we can see and sense what the freedom to exercise all our violent tendencies and fantasies is leading to. A huge black hole has opened within man’s global civilization and it will not be sated until it has swallowed all of it. My understanding of humankind’s coming to maximum possible (not actually full) empathy doesn’t happen until close to a thousand years into our future. First must come the inevitable cleansing of all the evil that undergirds this current global society. No way around that. It is quite comparable to the box of apples in which even if only one apple goes bad, it spoils all the rest. Much talk has happened recently about the famed “critical mass” that is supposed to swing the world to “the light” but nothing has ever been said about the fact that this “critical mass” has always existed, and always it has served evil. No “critical mass” can change the way things are going because it is what is dictating the way they are going! No, it will not be a critical mass, perhaps not even direct intervention from “others” but an individual choice to move away from the rotten apples and live a new life; a virtuous, moral, compassionate life. It will happen one by one, through self empowerment… or it will not happen and mankind such as it is, will self-destruct. Some will say that’s too black and white. To that, I reply, I’m colour-blind!


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