Today’s subject is very important to me, chasing happiness AND sadness. I am finally back home in London and had a chance to invite some of my close friends over to celebrate the Iranian new year. Though it is a new year, new spring season, this time is always difficult for me as I miss my homeland, my mother, and my family dearly–every day from them affects me deeply. But I am grateful for each and every moment of happiness and sadness in my life.
After 8 years, I visited the lovely city of Genova and capturedthese beautiful photos which reflected this sense of chasing happiness and sadness I wanted to convey in this post. The photos were taken by my very talented friend Gioele Fazzeri.
We chase “happiness” and run away from “sadness.” But why? And should we? In my humble opinion, we can only ever let go of what we have held.
What do I mean? It is no secret for those who have been reading me for a while now, that I am unable to see, hug and kiss my mother for almost 6 years now, with Facetime serving as the only bridge between us. Yet somehow, I feel closer to her now, amid all the distance and separation, than I ever did before.
This immense sadness makes me, the fragility of all worlds threatened to upend me. And yet, somehow, these days, this melancholy. What I would give for just one more hug. Only one more, because those days…..touched by sorrow, aching with grace, were the most beautiful of all. The truth and longing in one another. Just a man holding his mother’s hand while the stars fell.
What else is there?
And so. Perhaps, if you look at it closely, you will learn what I learned from last 6 years. Your happiest moments, like mine, also contain moments filled with the heaviest grief. Your most bitter heartbreak, like mine, holds your truest laughter. Just go into it and ask yourself, during those moments of true pain and true joy, what is it you really feel?
I’m always reading those who are complaining about being far away from their loved ones, or experiencing heartbreaks. We chase emotions as mutually exclusive experiences: “happiness” or “sadness”, which cannot coexist. Yeaaaahhh, but we are only denying life this way, and in that denial, the pursuit itself becomes futile, because we are chasing a holy grail now, magic, salvation, not life, humble and true, which we can be grateful for.
In this new world there is no such thing as a single, isolated emotion, anymore than there is a single, isolated person. Emotions come to us in contradictions, paradoxes, just like the waves. I’m happy when I’m sad. I’m brave when I’m ashamed. I’m angry when I’m forgiving. I laugh when I’m guilty. No emotion comes to me or even you alone, but always brings it with the dust and the rain and the stars.
Is the wave rising, or is it falling? Perhaps now you see. Not happiness or sadness, but happiness and sadness.
Chasing happiness or sadness, not happiness AND sadness, is the greatest mistake we can make in this life. This way we split the world, people, and own selves up into little pieces, which we then try to stitch back together, with the passion of falling in love, the thrill of reward, and so on. When we split everything up, we come to feel as though we are incomplete parts of an incomplete world — broken things staggering through ruins. Chasing only the happiness, but never the sadness. When we split the world into black and white, happy and sad, tiny pieces the splitting continues. Then there is shame, rage, fear, pain, then comes alienation and ultimately, a profound sense of loneliness.
Life is not a battle anymore, where we try to mask sadness with happiness, subtract guilt from hope. This is a man made war against fate, a battle no human heart can win.
But we cannot chase sadness out of happiness. We survive and thrive by chasing happiness AND sadness.