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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Go Light Up Some People

Salutations, Coffee Lovers.

I heard a sad theory this week. Someone told me that, in their experience and opinion, the majority - the vast majority, in fact - of people are sad. I mulled it over. I watched people this week, just to see if they really are sad.

I desperately wanted to prove this theorist wrong. But as I watched people in the grocery store, in Starbucks, at school, and out on the street, I couldn't help noticing a surprising number of people who looked sort of miserable. Don't me wrong, they didn't want anyone to notice that they looked miserable. In fact, the people with the saddest eyes, looked the most put together.

It scared me. It really did. I know what sadness feels like. We all do. But the idea that there are people who are sad all the time is alarming. Sadness is like a tricky man with many faces who sidles down next to you and, ever so slowly, convinces you that this new feeling is perfectly normal.

Then I started watching my Facebook friends and the people that I follow on Twitter. So many of them were overly enthusiastic about...nothing. And it made me think of another word besides sadness: distraction. Is it possible - humor me for just a second - that television shows, songs, video games, chat rooms, and social networks don't really make us happy (though we claim that they do). Is it possible that all they really do is distract us from our own sadness?

I think it's not only possible, but highly likely.

The kind of sadness I'm talking about isn't the kind that crushes you unexpectedly when a tragedy occurs. That is sorrow or despair. That is a wound that promises to never fully heal. This sadness isn't even a wound. You can't express it to someone because there is no blood to show them. There is just a dull, beating, thumping ache that fills you up. It's nothing like crippling depression. No. You function just fine. You get up in the morning, you get ready, you put on your clothes, you do you daily activities, and you distract yourself. In fact, you may distract yourself so well that no one - including you - knows that you are sad. That's a mighty great trick, eh?

This isn't everyone. But it's a lot of people. So I guess, wise theorist, you were right. A lot of people are sad. Not in pain, not in despair, nor in unbearable agony. Just slow, bearable sadness.

I'm sorry to be so gloomy this week. I don't mean to depress all of you. In fact, my final message is a very positive one. And it is this: you may not know who is sad. You may not even know if you are sad. So find your joy. Let it fill you up until it's sloshing over the top of your proverbial cup. And when that coffee (ahem) - I mean joy - is splashing on the ground, go light up some people. Make them smile. Make them remember what it was like to be a glowing, untainted child who laughed at the drop of hat.

Whether you agree with the wise theorist or not (and it's a totally valid opinion to believe that the majority of people are happy), go brightensomeone's day. And don't forget to brighten your own day too, okay?

May your coffee be strong, your passions electric, and your laughter easy.


  1. This is why I hug people and tell them I love them every single day. :)

    You, sir, are a wise kid.

  2. Oh Michael I love so much and you and your blog makes me so happy. I think what you are saying has so much truth to it! And it reminds me of something else I've heard, that may be borderline on cliche. That we all have a void in us, that we are constantly subconciously trying to fill that void with things, like you said, that we think makes us happy when they really don't. Not all of us are aware of that void, but it's there. I really find this to be true, and though I have no freaking idea what fills that void yet, I am determined to find out and even more determined to fill my void and help fill everyone else's that I possibly can.
    <3 Gina

  3. Now- this is where I get little retrospect. You looked and saw sadness- but was there something else? Go to the mall...
    I used to work in one back in the early 90's, in Tucson. I worked as a member of the elite package loading team for a Sears store. (You know, you order something and it's too big to give you on the floor, so they tell you to go around back and a "guy" will have it for you? I was **that guy**).

    Anyhow, I used to spend my spare time walking the mall. During Christmas-time, especially, I used to notice a change in people. The look in their eyes was vacant, despondent. It wasn't sadness, gloominess. It certainly wasn't happiness.

    For the life of me, I couldn't place the look- sullen, detached. I remember having seen it before but I was never able to recall where. Then, in the epiphany moment that accompanies any realization that stays with you as long as you live, I remembered; to this day, I recall the man in his jacket, his scarf (it gets cold in Tucson sometimes) , a longer, waist length wool coat. He was walking with a woman who looked up at with with an expressionless exposure of her teeth. The vacancy in his eyes was exactly that of... a cow.

    And this realization explained itself entirely. We are cows, wandering the pasture of the mall, grazing at the food-courts and picking out clothes and goods for our young calves. Sedentary and bucolic.

    Dark Green pastures full of dead presidents- munch munch munch.

  4. Nice essay, although I don't think "sad" is the right word. I think it is more like "just existing." I would be interested in your opinion on whether people in church act the same. Next time you are in church, look at the worshipers and see if they look equally sad to you. Jesus can help fill that void Gina is talking about.

  5. food for thought: