Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Joy of Sadness, the Sadness of Joy

Underneath the hardness there is fear
Underneath the fear there is sadness
In the sadness there is softness
In the softness is the vast blue sky


I sat in the subdued lighting of the ultrasound room. The technician glided the wand over my daughter’s growing belly. Too soon, too soon. Too young to have a baby. And yet, there it was. Checking, checking. Heart, brain, spine, abdomen, arms and legs, fingers and toes. Everything was there. Surreal.

And finally, the announcement we had been waiting for. “It’s a boy.” I started crying. Laughing and crying. Was I sad or happy? I have no idea. All I know was that my heart was full and overflowing.

How am I supposed to make sense of this? My mind tells me stories, stories of judgment and fear, embarrassment and worry. Oh, but my heart. My heart tells me stories of love and forgiveness, acceptance and anticipation, willingness and wonder, trust and faith.

Chogyam Trungpa teaches that joy comes from the gentle heart of sadness. When we can break through the hardness of absolutes and move through our fear of uncertainty, we find ourselves in the sea of sadness. All the suffering of the world is there. We might want to escape. Fear might lure us back to the “safety” of our hard defenses.

But if we can find the courage to stay, to yield, we can sink into the softness of our tender, open heart. With our heart thus exposed and vulnerable, we we are connected to the deep heart of all hearts. There we find freedom. We can soar with eagles in the vast blue sky.

The heart that breaks open can contain the whole universe. –Joanna Macy


  1. I am happy you are embracing this. I always feel this is a divine plan..

  2. only be led by the heart. Our minds may try to go through the logic/or lack of and rationalize things....but with love comes happiness no matter what. Unconditional love is like no other, it is the strongest feeling of all...stronger than hate, I believe.
    Congratulations, much happiness, and blessings for a wonderful future.

  3. Congrats on the upcoming new addition! Definitely a moment for joy and celebration. Excellent post...

  4. Thanks for sharing this Galen. I know the mix of emotions--from joy, to shame, to wonder, to uncertainty--is a roller coaster. But you are a wonderful mom and I know that joy and love always prevail in the end.

    I think we need to go shopping for baby boy things. When can we do that? -- Godspeed, Elizabeth

  5. The quote at the beginning of this post reminds me of the Jedi Code (star wars geek here):

    There is no emotion, there is peace.
    There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
    There is no passion, there is serenity.
    There is no chaos, there is harmony.
    There is no death, there is the Force.

  6. Cool poem. Enjoyably poetic post. I like babies too. I'm going to spend more time around them in future.

  7. Galen,
    I think embracing the challenges that life throws our way and "breaking through the hardness of absoluteness" is the only way to live and grow. When we can break out of that shell of hard absolutes we find an entire joyful judgement free universe waiting to welcome us!

  8. Hi Galen,

    Congratulations! I believe that you would have been just as happy if it were a girl because life is such a miracle and the child will be a welcome addition to your family! :)

    Much of our thoughts and opinions are not our own. They are the views that we pick up from society of how things should or should not be. Often it is wiser to listen to and open our hearts because that is when we are most in tune with our nature and true happiness. Life is meant to be celebrated!

    Thank you for sharing this lovely article! :)

    Irving the Vizier

  9. Hi Galen,
    This is a beautiful post. It actually had me thinking of my step father whose death was 2 years ago. I've been trying to get to a place of acceptance and trying to find my joy again. Accepting that I'm going to be ok without him, even though a part of me may not even want to. There can be such deep sadness with a beginning life and an ending life. I guess it's all about realizing that sadness is ok. There is nothing wrong about the emotion. We just have to make sure we continue to thrive. Congrats on your new grandson! Thanks Galen.

  10. This is really a special post for me, as it brings back my visit with my daughter for her first now grandbaby...girl!!! it was such a happy time to share with my own little girl...congrats to you and your family!!!

  11. Thanks for all the lovely comments. Just to make something clear, I would have reacted the same way if the technician announced it was a girl. My reaction was not to the gender as much as to the knowledge. The baby changed from being an "it" to being a "he."

    Manzanita--Thank you. There are definitely some cosmic forces at work here!

    JackSamMum--Thank you. Love is stronger than hate. Definitely.


    Elizabeth--You are a sweetheart. I would love to go shopping sometime. We'll have fun...and fun is good!

    Haven--Thank you for the Jedi code--wise indeed.

    Mikey--If you want to hang out with babies more, come down and visit me this fall. My foster daughter is pregnant, too! We'll have two babies by Halloween!

    Angela--Lovely image. Thank you.

    Irving--You are right, of course, about thoughts and opinions we "import" from outside ourselves. It is very hard sometimes to listen to the truth of love. Thanks for your comment.

    Dandy--Yes, sadness can really connect us to each other and open us to giving and receiving compassion. It doesn't have to be "negative." It sounds like your relationship to your step father was a gift to treasure always.

    Karen--Even though this is not what I would have wanted for her at this point in her life, I am appreciating the new stage of my relationship with my daughter. I'm looking forward to being a grandmother.

  12. She's very lucky to have a mom like you to support her. Look at it this way, she's starting life a little earlier than expected. It'll all work out. I know, YOUR life has been put on hold, plans have changed, and you've changed gears.
    You've become a grandma a little earlier than you expected also.
    Congratulations! Now go by some blue stuff, GI Joes, Lionel Trains, Hot Wheels, baseball bats, bicycles....etc....

  13. ryoko--You said it all! Thanks for your comment!

  14. It took me awhile to write young and then again wrapped in love and promise....hope

    We have been there and know what is required. We wish the path were not so ever thus - our wish to protect.

    It will be and filled with love and joy It is life

  15. Beautiful quotes; joy and sadness are like two sides of a coin.

  16. Sharda--Thanks for stopping by and leaving comments on several posts. I've gotten behind on your blog, but I'm going there right now to catch up!

  17. A beautiful post. I have felt the same way when my cousin gave birth to a baby boy last year. It may not be my baby but having another innocent heart born to the world esp that he's a part of our family is so overwhelming. He's grown up to be a very sweet, charming and smiling one-year old. =) Thank you for sharing this post!


Your comment is valuable and valued. Comment moderation is enabled to block spam, so please excuse the brief delay until your comment appears on the blog.