Sad is Happy for Deep People

One of my favorite lines from Doctor Who and a phrase that has stuck with me for years now.  Why do people from conflicted or painful pasts find so much more meaning and emotion in things that are dark or sad than other emotions.  Are we simply able to better empathize with pain and hardship?  We find comfort and understanding with a familiarity for things that are dark?  A past of pain is usually accompanied by a lack of positive support, so why aren’t those positive emotions that are so often craved and missing, a bigger source of happiness for people than dark scenes?

I spent a lot of time analyzing myself over the years, isolation is helpful for that.  The pleasure that comes from sad or dark stories, is the same kind of satisfaction I feel from appreciation and wonder at knowledge and the universe.  Its a kind of understanding, of acceptance and understanding.  I look at a decaying building, and I can appreciate that it held a person’s life, every moment they were ill, in pain, lonely, when they were thinking about loved ones, about having kids or loving family, all of these important moments, and their inherent impermanence.  Everything in their life, contained in those old rotted boards, washed away by coats of moss.  So much meaning to that space, but its still just another part of the universe fading away into infinity.  The same feelings come from seeing a billion billion stars, and knowing there are billions of worlds in all of those stars, holding an incredible vastness of mystery and incredible sights, possibly even thousands of other worlds of living things.  The relation between the infinitesimal and the infinite, and it makes me feel the same as the sadness from seeing a tragic scene of failed romance, of the understanding of death as an end to pain, of death as an end for all things that sometimes comes sooner than would bring happiness.

Many people have long wondered at the link between knowledge and sadness, of pain and creativity.  Why is understanding so closely linked with pain in human lives.  There is a great sadness that comes with true comprehension, and while knowledge can often bring hope, its never a hope that seems to come with happiness.  And when given the choice, so many would prefer to stay knowledgeable, rather than find happiness through ignorance.

There is a kind of peace in understanding, in acceptance, and it isn’t happiness.  But maybe its better than happiness.