How to Salvage Joy in Times of Sadness

Sadness is inherently draining and abusive. Sadness is an external and internal enemy that works from the inside out to slacken your limbs and corrupt your spirit.

Sadness is not theoretical, either. It is tangible. It is real.

Sadness is not getting the job.

Sadness is a cousin diagnosed with cancer.

Sadness is a miscarriage.

Sadness is an attempted overdose.

Sadness is the failure to overdose.

Sadness is a black man bleeding out in the street.

Sadness is a teenager bleeding out in a bathtub.

Sadness is not having enough food to feed your children.

Sadness is your father passing away.

Sadness is a missed promotion.

Sadness is pinched body fat.

Sadness is a hair perm gone wrong.

Sadness is the end to a relationship.

Sadness is a friendship let go.

Sadness is… everywhere.

Some sadness is bigger than others. Some sadness is rooted in something larger than yourself. However, no sadness can be outrun. No sadness can be escaped.

But no one has the time or energy to dwell on sadness forever. At a certain point, we must all unclog our systems and choose happiness.

Happiness breeds life. Sadness will kill you.

Sadness is gunk. Joy is water. Activism is hot tea.

Sadness is Gunk

Sadness is gunk, and gunk is sticky. It will clog your passageways until you are entirely stopped up– until you are a fortress, or maybe an island. Either way, you will be alone with no one and nothing but a few months provisions or maybe a coconut.

My advice? Live in your sadness for some time. Be respectful and aware of its presence. Like gunk, sadness is never composed of just one thing. It is a seemingly endless assortment of cause and effect, denial and surprise, resentment and attachment. So, acknowledge your sadness. Examine it. If you’re brave, stick out your tongue and taste it. (Warning: it will taste absolutely horrendous.) Then act.

Activism is Hot Tea

“Mom, I can’t breathe out of my nose”

“Drink some hot lemon tea”

… and flush your system out. Actively work to break down the ingredients that made your gunk so sticky.

Donate to cancer research, take a pro-bono case, be a better friend, tell your father you love him, buy a journal, start a blog, hike a mountain, adopt a cat, scream into the mirror, attend a protest, quit your job, submit a fresh job application, update your resume, cut your hair, ask for help.


Feel the heat pass through your body. Then, realize… heat just passed through your body. You’re not as stuffed up as before. Maybe, just maybe, you won’t be stuffed up anymore at all.

Now, take some rest.

Wake up the next morning and drink something pure. My grandmama always tells me, “The first thing that enters your body should always be water.

Joy is Water

Gulp it down. Let a little dribble down your chin and into your shirt. Commit its taste to memory– then realize that it has no taste. It is as natural to you as the air you breathe.

Joy is not your privilege, it is your right.

Don’t ever let anyone make you pay for it.

Still I Rise

Maya Angelou, 19282014

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.



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