What This Cowboy Teaches Us About The Power of Sadness


Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

In the spirit of the holiday I’m continuing this series on gratitude with a third post. Today I will share my take on how getting in touch with and allowing our sadness, is a powerful place to be, when reaching past our comfort towards gratitude.

In my last post I shared a climactic, life changing experience in which I tapped into gratitude when in the midst of sadness and pain.

Celebrate Sadness

I will share what I learned from this by first sharing the appreciation I now have at this point in my life for the fertile and rich emotional place of sadness.

Sad Sappy Love Music

Years ago I was talking with a cousin of mine about mariachi music. For those of you unfamiliar with mariachi, it is a very traditional form of Mexican music that originated in the state of Jalisco. It covers the full range of emotions from jolly and patriotic to bleeding heart sorrow. Vicente Fernandez is known in Latin America as the Elvis Presley of Mexico who gave rise to the popularity of mariachi or Ranchera music world wide.

The Universal Story of Heartbreak

Chente’ as devoted fans call him, is an cultural icon who captures the heart of the Mexican people in his music and style. Here is an old music video of him singing a famous song of his “Por Tu Maldito Amor” or “Because of Your Damned Love”. Crude, I know. Isn’t that pain though?

Back to the video, he finds a letter from his beloved apologizing for leaving and letting him know she doesn’t love him like she thought. He crumples up the paper and then throws a bottle of tequila at her picture. He then proceeds to sing his song accompanied by some more tequila.

Singing The Pain

This song demonstrates what we all do when in pain, we get angry and go to defense. If we stay there usually damaging consequences follow as I’m sure we have all experienced. In this video Chente’ doesn’t do that. He gets mad and then gives himself the space to “be with it” with the help of tequila, in the very Mexican cowboy way. He sings the song at the verge of tears throughout.

Social Permission to Feel

Songs like this granted millions of macho Mexican men throughout the decades, the social permission to cry their sadness.

Vicente demonstrates to his fans the how of being a manly cowboy, full of heart.

Eve Ensler the American playwright, poet and women’s activist shared in an interview many years ago (I couldn’t find it, my apologies) something to the effect that the un-cried tears of boys turn into bullets.


Bully’s to Cowboys

How true is that in this day and age when there is an epidemic of bullying and mass shootings in our schools? What would happen if boys were taught the gallant art of expressing sadness through music like Chente’?


Sadness, the Gateway to Many Good Things

My cousins stance was that mariachi music was depressing and it only promoted alcoholism. I agree that to a certain extent the Mexican cowboy-macho-persona is attached to tequila and the problems in Mexico don’t help in keeping people away from the bottle. I also agree that the music is not for listening every day. It has a specific purpose and I’ll go into this later.


Emotional Expression=Humanity

Giving expression to sadness through the arts like music keeps a culture’s humanity in tact. Mariachi is to Mexico, what blues is to the U.S. This kind of musical expression is an underestimated and overlooked contributor to the emotional health of a culture.

The final verse in this favorite video of an also famous song of Chente’ named “Aca Entre Nos” or “Between You and I”  loosely translates into “I can’t support this anymore, I’m hating without hating(because he still loves his beloved) because I’m breathing through this wound”.


Breathing Through Wounds

What would our world look like if we all learned a little more about breathing through our wounds?

What would our world look like if boys were taught the manly art of  breathing through wounds through music, like Chente’?  Where would the world be without it’s talented musicians giving voice to sadness in all its tones and subtleties?


Softening Into Pain

When I give myself the space to “breath through my wounds”  (without the tequila 🙂 ), it can feel as if every second is forever. On my path of self care though, I’ve come a long way in learning to soften into pain to arrive at the other end of it and finally release it. I personally listen to Chente’ and other Latin artists that take me there if you know what I mean. The beautiful thing is when I’ve emptied myself of all the emotion, I’m then… done and the need to listen to that style of music is gone.

Being Under the Surface of Pain

Although it took me years to understand what happened that fateful day at the crossroads with my friend(shared in the last post), some of what I know for sure today is that in taking the effort to reach for the expansive feeling of gratitude while in the midst of pain, quite frankly, unearths insight, wisdom and even experiences of  illumination.


The Gift of Illumination

The experience for me seemed to be a window into a another possibility of what could be, if I looked at everything through the eyes of gratitude. I understood later that this takes a sort of internal muscle that needs to be practiced and if our vulnerability is touched while reaching for gratitude, more potent insight and power can be found. The fertile and raw place of emotional tenderness is revealed unfortunately, for many of us through pain.

Gratitude expands and widens. To choose to open up to it in the midst of feeling vulnerable and raw is nothing less than brave and a statement of choosing life.


Unearthing New Life

The weight and tenderness of raw sadness when fully allowed sinks us into deeper levels of feeling. As if with every navigation through pain and heartbreak a deeper well of feeling is unearthed and equally deep and enjoyable feelings can then be experienced.

In letting our hearts open up in all it’s gritty pain, something unexpected happens, it lifts and lightens and  in it’s wake and a fresh layer of a more resilient and responsive internal emotional landscape is found through which to experience the world.

In my next post I will share research on emotional resiliency connected to emotional geodiversity

Until then, what do you have to say about being vulnerable?

If you found this post helpful please share, like or comment below. Thanks again for stopping by and making me part of your day today, until next time!

2 thoughts on “What This Cowboy Teaches Us About The Power of Sadness

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