Happiness and Healthiness
My father, Charles A. Castiglia, has a favorite verse, John 11:35. It is the shortest in the Bible, with only two words. “Jesus wept”. Jesus, who was spreading the word of eternal life in heaven, wept for the death of His friend, Lazarus. He wept, and He felt the incredibly human sensation of true sorrow.
That’s a ridiculous thought to try and wrap you head around, that someone who is without sin could feel such horrible sadness. In my own experience, and that of many people I’ve worked with, sadness isn’t a particularly comfortable emotion. It feels, at times, like it’s something I should be ashamed of, like I need to just be strong. But how can grief be weak if Jesus was overcome with it?
We are told too often that our goal is to be happy, and that you can not rest until you find it. But I don’t believe that happy is a destination. I don’t believe that it is a mountaintop to conquer. I believe that it is a bit more like weather. It’s an emotion, it’s sunshine and blue skies, just like grief that feels so much like a thunderstorm. Yes, we love the sun, and we dream of eternal warm weather, especially here in Buffalo. If you go too long with sunshine, however, things will get dry, the ground will crack, and things will struggle to grow. It’s only with sadness that rain can water the world and give everything what it needs to thrive.
The destination, in my whole-hearted belief, is healthiness. You want to root yourself in health, in good habits for your mind and soul. That grief may not go away right off the bat. It might even come back, as terrifying as that sounds. However, when we end our story at Happy, we can’t grow any more. We can’t become kinder, or more empathetic, or more passionate about the world, if all we are is Happy. We would become stagnant.
For any Star Wars fans out there, think of it as the light and dark sides of the force. When the dark side is wholly in power, there is chaos and destruction and pain. When the light side is wholly in power, you get the prequels! If you haven’t seen the prequels of Star Wars, or if you perhaps even liked them, let me explain why that’s a bad thing. When the light side of the force was in power, the world stopped progressing. Nothing got done, power was hoarded, and the world stood aside when the pain took over again.
That not to say that we should stay in our grief forever, or that we should become bitter with the world. When that sadness comes to us, I believe that it’s good and normal to seek shelter to hide you from the pain. The important part is to remember to come out of that hidden place, so that you are able to see when the sun starts to shine again. We need the good and the bad, the sun and the rain, the light and the dark, to be who we are. Because the world isn’t about having eternal happiness, it’s about finding home.