If sadness casts a shadow in the sun’s low light

December 4, 2022

Last week I spent four days in North Cornwall. A place blessed in beauty all year round, but which in late November has a stripped back, brooding quality revealed in monumental shadows as sea breezes move the sun’s low light across glorious views, but without carrying any of its warmth.

I have needed a break from work for a little while. Tiredness has accumulated in the nooks and crannies of my mind and body, and it has felt harder to be at peace with all my spinning thoughts that never seem to find their place to rest for long.

Cornwall is one of the places I feel I can lie low beneath the persistent hum of task-lists and agendas. It is a place where I only need to focus on how many layers of clothing to wear and to make sure that I lift my head to see and feel those stunning views.

As life slowed down and work drifted to a less pressing priority, I was relieved to find that there was still so much joy in the canvass-ready seascapes and in the sound of waves rhythmically moving their haul of sand and pebbles up and down the beach with each crashing fall; but I also noticed that despite the season-changing soulfulness of this place, I continued to carry the weight of underlying sadness that I could not quite put down.

Perhaps, I quietly counselled myself, I must acknowledge that for now at least there is more for me to accept about how I am feeling than just some accumulated work fatigue.

I do not say this lightly, and I do not say it to suggest that we are all the same, but I know that sometimes I hope to fix what makes me sad with a treat, or a drink with a friend, or a little break from all that is normal. Sometimes however I know that this is only a distraction and, back in my real world, it fixes nothing.

I am too old and too gnarly and too set in my ways to try new things, but one thing I have always tried to do is to accept that whatever beckons a low mood to stand at my side and to pull at my sleeve, it is just as much a part of me as the things that make me laugh, or feel love or which allows for tears of joy.

I didn’t need my break in Cornwall to fix my sadness, but I did need it to remind me that my sadness is part of me and should always be allowed to stand beside me. It will not always pull at my sleeve, but when it does there is still joy and beauty in this world to seek out and love.

My sadness therefore is not a darkness that drapes over joy; my sadness is the shading that lets the joy have more definition within my familiar routines. I am grateful for it, as I am grateful for my time in Cornwall and the reminder it gave me that my sadness is not to be fixed like some work-based project. My sadness is just the shadow that let’s me know the sun is still shining.

Take care. Paul xx

 

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