As the saying goes, “Genius is sorrow’s child.”
Psychologists Christopher Long and Dara Greenwood recently investigated the connection between death and creativity. They asked a group of undergraduates to write humorous captions for New Yorker cartoons. Some of the students were first primed with subliminal messages of death. These students produced cartoons judged to be more creative and more humorous. The conclusion is that the inability to acknowledge and mourn loss leads to a shutdown of vital creative impulses. On the flip side, the resolution of loss allows for a fresh start and renewed access to sources of creativity.
Mourning, it seems, is not only vital for our mental health but for our creative lives as well.
This might explain why a disproportionately large number of creative geniuses lost a parent, usually a father, at a young age. A study of some 700 historical figures found that 35% lost a parent by age 15, and nearly half by age 20. The list includes Dante, Bach, Darwin, Michelangelo, Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf and more. These creative geniuses possessed not only an ability to rebound from suffering but also to transform that suffering into creativity.
Even our tears of repentance have to be washed in the blood of Jesus.
The good thing about pain is that it breaks down the walls of your ego, tones back relentless ambitions, and forces you into the present – enhancing your awareness of and appreciation for all of the people in your life. As it is through and with these people, that you can once again experience moments of joy.
Come take my lovin’ away
Won’t you fly in and save the day
Never know when you’re coming
Never know how long you’ll stay
You’re my heartbreak hero
Couldn’t have you any other way
It’s okay not to be okay. You don’t have to be happy all the time. Life isn’t going to be a nonstop joyride. Allow yourself to feel pain. Sit with it. It’s okay to have a broken heart or hurt feelings. It’s okay to be scared or anxious. All of this is part of life. A beautiful, tragic, and adventurous life.
There will come a time when you’ll see clearly again; tears will no longer blur your eyes and love will no longer break your heart. Trust in this.
I used to be scared of tears. I thought tears meant weakness, an inability to deal with life’s hardships. But one cannot know the supreme value of tears until he has cried his weight in them. It is then that we realize their beauty, strength, and power. Tears are a gift from God. The healing shower to our soul.
These days I cry at the drop of a hat. There’s no shame in my tears. Crying is a beautiful thing. Where there are tears, there is love.