The Uses of Sorrow

(In my sleep I dreamed this poem)

Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.

Mary Oliver

Thanks to Elaine Thierry for sharing this poem on Facebook.  It made me remember...

About 20 years ago I had an epiphany about what I had considered to be my "sordid past."  I had felt bad about how many men I had been with and had allowed self-righteous, judgmental people to shape my own opinion of myself.  I had acted as if what they had to say about me was true, rather than an opinion based on less than the full truth.  No woman wants to be thought of as slutty or easy.  Definitely not me.

I had recently gone through my third divorce and was planning on going to law school.  It was my decision to divorce a man that I loved because I realized that I was not going to be happy with my life if I considered it from the prospect of being eighty years old looking back on my life.  I knew that it meant I might be alone the rest of my life, and I still went ahead.  I didn't want fear of being alone to be why I did anything.

Sometimes, to be completely free, we have to give up what others think of us and recognize the nature of what we have actually done rather than allowing ourselves to be swayed by the self-righteous judgments others burden themselves with,  and then inflict upon us for their own reasons.  We don't have to believe or adopt their judgments and opinions of us.  We don't have to make what we have experienced mean more than the information we gleaned directly from the experience itself.  

We can never recognize the natural light within ourselves if we are focused on only the darkness with which others wish to crucify us.  

That darkness we judge ourselves to have embodied is most often made up of the mistakes we make in our youth and innocence and what we or others have said about it, for which we can only forgive ourselves. We create awful guilt and terrible stories about ourselves because we have adopted ideas that were not ever our own original ideas.  Those ideas did not spring from our consciousness; and they are not our own, those ideas are not our truth, unless we claim them.  If we don't allow ourselves some kind of forgiveness for adopting and living as if those alien ideas were our truth, completely letting them go, there is only us being cut off from living fully, only terrible sorrow and disappointment and being stuck with a misperception of who we are.  

Where is authenticity if we live our lives as if we are awful people for having been lonely and searching?  

When I was a young woman I did a bit of sewing wild oats.  I had a few adventures.  I learned a bit about what I love, what I value, what has meaning for me.  I learned some of the most important things that I know by making mistakes and some of those mistakes were painful and heartbreaking for me personally.  But I don't think I broke a lot of hearts, perhaps a few.  I know I didn't leave anyone  in a permanent state of emotional pain.  I didn't ever do anything that was outside my own personal responsibility to do.  And by choosing one day to free myself I went on to build a glorious life that was not accidental.  I freed myself to find the love of someone true and good. 

"All these roads steer me wrong, but I still drive them all night long"  Bruno Mars

It's what we do until we learn who we truly are.

Views: 485

Comment by Harp on January 9, 2013 at 6:49pm

I do understand your point.  I try my best to adhere to what I refer to as My Sunshine Laws which I use as guide to what I should and should not say here on either the Open Salon or Our Salon.   I also like to keep all of this separate and apart from Facebook.   This is just a lot more comfortable.

I also have difficulty keeeping track of every from the Open salon, mostly because I was gone for about an 18 month period and when i came back they were so screwed up, that I came straight over here.  

If we were friends before... welcome back to my little world. 

Comment by Susanne Freeborn on January 9, 2013 at 6:51pm


Comment by Arthur James on September 17, 2013 at 3:33am


I saw this at the last blog I was reading.

Here is Something else you might enjoy.


The sunrise just now looks like the painting.

There is dark. There is Light. Light beams,

and darkness fleas. Light is epiphany, beam

after light bean, and flashes of new insight

perceptions. I forgot I commented Here.

Hope you are walking in light. Bless.

I remember you read R. W. Emerson.

I LOve his essay on ` Friendship.

I go get a bowl of Cheerio cereal.

N pour orange juice in Rice Krispies.

That would be a bad cereal killer.

Comment by Arthur James on September 27, 2013 at 5:57am


annoy . . .


okay . . .


No drunk while reading Open,

Our Salon, or Salon `On Line.

No imbibe in Hendrick's Gin -

Exquisite Deviance - O, gin -

Add - /

I saw @ Salon the Gin Add \


I knew a On ` L ` Michele.

She was wooed by agin drinker.

Now, Michele never visits farm.

Michele was once my best adult

Friend. She was the best helper.

Now, Michele's Life is Shattered.

Comment by Arthur James on December 26, 2013 at 5:34am


Amaze amazement . . .

I was sharing the 'gist' of

Mary Oliver's Poem titled:


The Traveller 


It's about Voice

and the opposition

and Voice becomming

that Inner Entertaing

Guide, Counselor,

and Dear Friend.


I think of the

beautiful word:



I Love them . . .

I go feed cat

Comment by Arthur James on February 9, 2014 at 4:46am


My darkest times have been my Teacher.

Ironically, those anguishes gave me insights.

My lightness, searching for the approriate

Word . . . Beyond Word . . . Comes at

a Perfect Time. Then, it time to lay

those burdens down. There are

Flows of Tears that cleanse

Within, and a Flow of Joy

Descends as if Heavenly

Garments envelope and

We'll be ... okay. I say

to others` Everything

will be alright. I

read sorrow may

persist in right

(period of time)

But Joy comes

in the mourning.

Comment by Arthur James on April 19, 2014 at 1:42am


I know I can annoy...

If I see a ` Read ' I enjoyed,

I'll reread` Gin & Again.


How did the Owl with laryngitis feel?

The Old Tree Owl din't give a ` Hoot.

Why did the Otter cross the highway?

To get to the Otter side. If it was The

Fourth of July what Parrot Say? Polly

want a Firecracker. Happy Saturday.

Comment by Arthur James on August 18, 2014 at 9:03am


I am on a Government Contraption.

I saw atop ` On Being ' Radio Show?

Author ` Alchemist '  Re` Listen...


Why does a Moose wear fur coat?

She doesn't like cotton and silk.

A cat is walking with fury kit.

Mommy Cat see a Chi woe wee?

Poodle? Mommy says ` BARK!

Babby Kitty ask why a ` Bark?

Mommy says it's good ` Meow.

huh? It good to know ` Greek?

It Best to know Foreign ` Scat!

huh? Know Foreign ` Language.

The dog ran off ` O, Heehays!

Heehay? `! ' Oh, ` Heeehaws!

O Kosh? ` ,  ' OHO! ` Pause... 

Comment by Arthur James on September 1, 2014 at 1:14am


I saw, visited, and

sign out. I concur

with first comment.


I'll look in a deflecting

looking glass mirror 

and wonder ` what

defect rascal is in

this aging mortal 

form. I wonder?

We may be


We wander...


Grace is free.

We breathe in,

and if we forget

to breath out?

We cross to

the otter 






& get



I go back


I slept 



in new



Maybe we

croak, as

sigh out...

We get






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