I was in the car listening to “Paint It Black” by the Rolling Stones when someone asked out loud what they thought the meaning of the song was. As the English major who spent four years analyzing writing, they asked for my take on it. Off the top of my head I said I thought it was about how it’s easier being sad than it is to be happy. It’s easier to paint everything black and accept how dark this world truly is than live in an ignorant bliss. When you’re happy, there’s always a risk in becoming sad again, so it’s easier to be permanently dark than walk the tightrope of happiness and despair. I’m not saying that’s exactly right. Mick could’ve been talking about the death of someone and how he wanted the whole world to be in mourning with him for all I know. But the conversation got me thinking nonetheless. Because I do find more comfort in sadness than happiness.
There’s something consoling in heartbreak and grief and death and depression. When you’re at the bottom, living in the darkness, there is no way it can get any worse. Happiness is a terrifying sensation because at any moment, it can be ripped away from you and send you tumbling downward. If you live under a dark cloud, you never fear the moment it will rain. It becomes a natural part of your existence. It’s an easy phenomenon to accept. The world sucks – so it goes.
When you’re beginning a new relationship, it is especially terrifying. You are over the moon with blind love and happiness and excitement, yet at any moment it can all go wrong. You can be filled with ecstasy one instant then have your heart shattered into pieces the next. I almost would prefer heartbreak over the anticipation of it. I would rather be sad by myself than be happy with someone, deep down awaiting the day they hurt me.
When you’re sad, nothing can hurt you. It’s empowering to be miserable. People say it’s easier to hate than to love. Well, at least in my opinion, it’s easier to be sad than to be happy. You can relish in sadness. You can brood and reflect. Why do you think artists are always depressed, mentally unstable, dramatic? Because sadness is inspiration; melancholy is a muse. It’s easier to create something beautiful out of sorrow than joy. If Van Gogh wasn’t a tortured soul, would we get such beautiful art? What about Adele? Would everyone love her music if it was about anything besides heartbreak? Practically every author from the early 1900s was publically depressed, and they wrote incredible stories and poetry.
Depression and grief sparks something within us. It allows us to tap into our creativity. It opens a new realm of emotions, of depth. It gets to the point where it actually feels good, because you’re safe. There is nothing more horrible than being happy, content with life, and then suddenly spiralling down into a black hole.
When you’re sad, you don’t have to worry about an emotional rollercoaster like that. There is no risk. You are down in the pits of darkness already, it becomes a part of you, it fuels you. You feel more in touch with people around you, regardless if you’ve ever been through the same thing as them. You are more sensitive, aware, yet never as vulnerable as you are when you’re happy. You are vulnerable because that happiness is threatened every single moment.
Just like the song Paint It Black, aren’t colors more complicated? Yes, they’re more cheery and heighten your mood and they’re more pleasant to look at, but isn’t black more reasonable, more comfortable? You can get lost in the blackness; you can seek comfort and refuge. You feel more, think more, accept more.
In life, you can and most positively will get hurt. It seems almost easier to go through life prepared for the blow, already in the trenches before you get buried any lower.