Monday, August 24, 2015

56ºF (13ºC) !?! / Being Sad

I don't remember EVER wearing a wool scarf here in August before. Normally we're sweltering, the whole month.
(I'm at the coffee shop this morning   >
about to start editing a ms.)

Strange days indeed.

How to Be Sad

I was house sitting over the weekend and felt quite chirpy. 
But when I came home to an empty house, I felt slayed with sadness again. Marz was at work but she has already left, really.

Yea verily, I felt feeble and sore broken, as David says (Psalm 38:8, KJV) (tho' I wouldn't join  him in saying, "I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart").

Classic avoidance move of the 21st century: 
I turned on my laptop. 

I googled How to Be Sad.
This result intrigued me: 
"Not to know how to be sad, not to dare to be sad and not to dare to be dissatisfied in depression"

And then I laughed when I clicked on it and saw:
"[Article in German]"

It reminds me of a friend whose PhD adviser turned her dissertation back saying it was too accessible and should instead "read as if it had been translated from German."

I didn't find what I was looking for on the first couple pages of results. 
Mostly it was inverted: how NOT to be sad, or it was advice on how to act sad, like for theater. 
Or it was advice for parents on how to help kids deal with sadness, some of it using this summer's movie Inside Out, with its great message that it's OK to be blue.

I actually found some comfort in this article, "How Inside Out Can Teach Evangelicals to Be Sad":
 “In the Protestant West today,” writes theologian Ben Myers [in "On Smiling and Sadness"], “smiling has become a moral imperative. The smile is regarded as the objective externalisation of a well-ordered life. Sadness is moral failure.

But this wasn’t Jesus’ way. Scripture never tells of Jesus smiling, though he certainly wept. Instead, Scripture calls Jesus “the man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.” Jesus—who knew better than anyone the promise of eternal joy—was not a jolly messenger of cosmic bliss, but a suffering servant."
I like that, but then the article goes on to say we're sad because of sin, and the cure for sadness is God, who will end sadness. 
Which is rather circular and brings you back to the reason evangelicals think you shouldn't be sad in the first place, eh?

I am sometimes sad because of "sin," if I translate "sin" to "lack of skill" (lack of skill at opening our hearts, using our brains, and washing our hands). 
After all, I gave up writing the garbage book because I couldn't stand looking at our crushing, collective lack of skill.

But I'm not thinking of this sadness of mine as something that I need to avoid or cure, but as a natural response to loss––plain old grief, in fact––that deserves its due.

Even though I do try to wriggle out of it, because it doesn't feel good, at heart I know how to be sad.

It starts with letting myself sit with sadness. Dare to be sad. Be a lump.

Think of heart ache as another muscle cramp: stretch into it. Gently.  As in Rumi's advice to welcome sorrow when it arrives at your door,  in his poem "The Guest House".
Or, for me, Bridget Jones singing "All By Myself" is  a pretty good picture of what I mean by leaning into sadness:

Maybe some tapioca pudding would help? Not straight out of the fridge, let it warm up to room temp.
I mean, however I might treat a sad, tired, hurt child, try that.

Eventually I've always found that sadness passes (different than depression, which can be relentless and dangerous)---it drains away. 

And then I pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again. [There begins a whole different list.]


Anonymous said...

It's the blues you got there.

The Crow said...

I can heartily recommend "Inside Out." Loved how the movie shows the value of being sad when that is what we feel.

I like my late mother-in-law's homemade rice pudding when I need comforting. Lordy, I miss that - and her. Can't make it like she did, though I certainly try. Might do that tonight, in fact.


Fresca said...

Z: Yeah, your garden variety blues, common as the common cold (and sometimes just as miserable).

CROW: Yeah, I liked "Inside Out" too--along with "Big Hero 6" I'm glad to see movies championing sadness as a healthy, valuable, natural emotion, NOT a disease.

Can you share your MIL's rice pudding recipe? That sounds perfect for our chilly weather as well as my mood.

Zhoen said...

Why Must I Be Sad?

I want your weather, you can have mine.

Fresca said...

Z: Ha! I like these lyrics:
"I'm writing everything down in a spiral notebook
In the hopes that one day
Other people will feel as low as this"

No, thanks, I like this cold weather, it's just disconcerting because it's so strange, well below the norm.

bink said...

You can come/stay back over here for a while if being at home gets too, too, sad.

The Crow said...

Marian Griest's Rice Pudding
(Takes a long time - sometimes as much as 1-3/4 hours, but worth the wait.)

1 quart whole milk
2 Tbs sugar
A pinch of salt
about 4 Tbs rice (will explain inexact measurement)
1 big knob of butter
2-quart glass casserole dish

Heat oven to 225F. Rub knob of butter all around inside of baking; set aside in refrigerator. (Big knob of butter is roughly 2 Tbs.)

Heat milk to just warm, remove from stove. Add in sugar and pinch of salt; stir until dissolved. Pour rice into milk, using a tablespoon measure, one tbs at a time, allowing rice to overflow the spoon slightly; stir. I measured the rice into a cup once to see how much that adds up to and it was almost 4 tbs. (I didn't make up the recipe, just giving it to you as she showed me.)

Let the milk-sugar-rice mixture cool to barely lukewarm. Pour into casserole dish, place on rack in center of over. Check in about 30 minutes, stir down the skin that has formed. Return to oven. Check again, about 15 minutes later. Stir down second skin. Repeat once, maybe twice more, depending on the doneness of the rice. It should be al-dente when ready to leave the oven.

Remove pudding at the end of the last stir-down. Cover casserole with lid, let cool to lukewarm. Be patient. Rice pudding holds its heat for a long time and if you try to eat it while it's hot...well, you just don't want to do that. While it is cooling, the final skin will form, which you don't want to stir down.

Lightly dust the cooling pudding with cinnamon, if you like. This is to-die-for served at room temp with mountains of whipped cream. Snickerdoodles on the side, and you'll think you've died and gone to paradise.

The time necessary to reach perfection depends on how dry your rice is. Rice absorbs moisture in humid conditions and will cook faster if it isn't bone dry, which is why you have to watch the pudding carefully. Go by the skin that forms. When it gets thick and turns light-tan around the edges, stir it into the pudding. Sometimes the al-dente stage is reached after 90 minutes; sometimes a little longer.

Marian was an expert at this. I still have problems, though I'm better at it than I used to be. Good luck, and let me know how you do!

The Crow said...

PS: if you like raisins in your pudding, add them after you've removed the pudding from the oven. Don't add them while the pudding is cooking or the milk will curdle and the pudding won't be as good. The heat and the remaining moisture in the pudding will plump the raisins.

Fresca said...

CROW: Oh, wow! That looks PERFECT!
Thank you!!!

I am going to make it soon, now that we're having cool weather and I could stand to turn on the oven.
I also just plain enjoyed reading the recipe---just the sort of directions I have from watching women in my family cook, oral & visual instructions, such as:
"add as much flour as you need". (Ha!)

This might be a fun recipe to illustrate...
(Especially since I broke my camera.)

You are very kind.

The Crow said...

Those kind of directions from an expert to a novice always reminded me of driving through an unfamiliar town where street signs aren't easily seen - if they exist at all - because the locals all know where to go. Or, they'll tell you to turn left at the street where the old meeting house used to be, then the bank, but something else is there now.

If I were to write a cookbook, I'd give anything to have you illustrate it!

Zhoen said...

Sad book.