What’s sad?

What’s sad?
Everything looks sad to me today.
That building, that doorway is sad.
That parking lot looks sad.
That person is sad. That car is sad.
What is it about that apartment
that makes it look so sad?
It is not terribly unkept!
It could use some paint on the railing
Look!—there is a broken window pane up there.
But overall it is good. The brick looks good.
So what is it that is sad?
Am I sad? Is Pittsfield sad? Just what is it
That all around me I see sadness?

This all reminds me of Jean-Paul Sartre. His philosophy is sad to me. There is something sad about a world with no God. And I know full well Sartre would not want me to feel sadness for his world. He was right about so many things, but God has accomplished so many great things in my life that it doesn’t make sense that there is no God. “No God” does not jibe with my life experience. I have accomplished things that are beyond me. There are days and hours and moments through which I would not have been able to make it without God. But what does this mean, if Sartre is right that God does not exist? I know for Freud it would have meant that I was weak and I needed to invent a God in order to fulfill my needs. I sense Sartre is different, though. Even though I can’t speak for him, I get the feeling he would be more gentle. “God doesn’t exist,” he would say, “But you choose to create a God for yourself in order to accomplish great things. Perhaps you could have also accomplished these things without God, with a different mindset.”

Again, I ask, what does this mean? Either Sartre is wrong and God exists and works in us and through us, or else Sartre is right and we can accomplish things beyond our wildest dreams.
Either God is natural or we are supernatural. And, either way, I’m floored. This is all a miracle.
And yet, today, all I see around me is sadness.

(N.B: I am fully ready to admit that “God” here might mean “God” or “gods” or “Spider-grandmother” or “Wakan Tanka.” All of it has made sense to me at one time or another. The only thing that does not make sense is that it is all luck, or that it is all from myself.

N.B: When I say “great things,” know that I am not full of myself regarding any kind of artistic or career accomplishments (the problems with this piece are proof of that!). The “great things” I am talking about, the things that are beyond my own efforts, are much more mundane: the ability to be fully present to someone, the courage to be at a crowded event, the stamina to make myself do something I have to do but do not want to do, the restraint to not erupt in anger at a certain situation, etc. You know.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *