Last night at my men’s group, I got in touch with a foundational level of sadness that has been with me at least since I was 8 years old. All of my “adult”, success, achievement and whatever has, over the years, been built on top of this level of sadness.

I think that most of us spend most of our lives “getting motivated”, reaching for happy, being successful or otherwise getting distracted in a way that has us avoid the what’s going on deep down below inside. There’s a cultural agreement around me that happy is good and sad is bad. Just be happy. (Hat tip: Pharrell Williams)

But I am an excavator. (By the way, the photo below is a new garage in the Berkeley Hills that we did close to Indian Rock. Huge views of the Bay too.)

Right now, I am a whole lot more about getting real and reaching for peaceful. The path towards peace walks straight through what is real.

“Happy” may happen on top of sadness like a new varnish over an old oak floor. But peaceful and joyful are deeper underneath. The only way out of the sadness is to go through it.

I could give you stories about the personal experiences that are at the source of my deep foundational level of sadness. But more so, I think that I learned it from the adults around me as a kid. If I want to, I can get triggered back to it everyday watching the “adults” running the world together today.

In my 20’s and 30’s, I was quite content to operate on top of and to varnish over the unfinished emotional business hidden down below. But as I like to say, many of us are scheduled for a mid-life transition right around 42 years of age. “Happy” and “successful” just isn’t real enough anymore. It is time to go deeper.

That’s what makes me a great coach for deep emotional work. I am willing to go there and I do go there myself.

I can’t do much about “the problems” of the world “out there.” But I am able to take a deep look at “the problems” of the world inside of here. I can get real with myself. I can dive deeply into the currents of my own emotional world and tell the truth about it.

I am a deep see diver. Again and again, I go down deep within myself to feel what is real. Again and again, I am willing to take a real good honest look.

As I’ve found for myself, there’s not much I can do about the world “out there.” But there is plenty that I can do about my world “in here.” To the extent that I follow or gossip about “the news” and “them”, I am in fact distracting myself from the real work to be done deep within myself.

You know what, I probably will listen to Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy” today. And I will also take a deep look inside at the deep foundational level of sadness that I’ve been living on top of for over four decades now. I know that there is something below that has been waiting for me to find yet again. But the way out of the sadness is through it.

bobcat from side