I turned around to face the man who had spoken those words. I didn't know him at all. He wasn't trying to start a conversation, and being at least 20 years my senior, he wasn't trying to flatter me either. He was simply making a random observation and, for whatever reason, vocalizing it.
It was January, and I was sad. Very, very sad. I had lost something, or rather someone, who had been very important in my life. My balance, which I'd finally regained after a harrowing experience a few years before, had been shaken once again. I'd taken a risk and believed completely in someone who'd proven to be false. And it hurt, badly.
I'd had relationships end before, but it had never felt like this. I'd lost my inner compass, and I was desperately trying to find my way to, well, just somewhere that there might be a modicum of peace. I knew how I was feeling, even if I wasn't talking much about it. But I had no idea I was carrying my emotions in such a visible way that complete strangers could see it on my face. I could think of no response to the man's statement, so I simply smiled, took my coffee, and left the cafe.
A few weeks ago, I went back to that same cafe, and the gentleman was there again. "Hey!" he said, "The lady with the sad eyes!"
"Oh no," I thought, "Now this is too much."
Time had passed, but I was still grieving for what I had lost. Love is a double-edged sword, having both the power to bring us to the state of highest joy as well as the potential to leave us with the deepest emotional scars. We know this going in, but if we choose to live boldly, we take the risk anyway, because the joy love can bring into our lives is so great.
But there are no gaurantees. Because someone loves us for 6 months doesn't mean they will love us for 7. Because they've loved us for 10 years doesn't mean we'll have an 11th anniversary. Loving is always a risk, and if we lose, we don't only lose the person, we lose the sense of identity they gave to us and the dreams that we needed them in our lives to complete. In a sense, the loss of a relationship is like a door slamming in our face. A path closes. Our inner compass spins wildly.
I don't know who the man in the coffee shop was, because I've not seen him again. And I don't think I'll see him again. I don't need to. He was a messenger of sorts, put in my path to wake me up, to snap me out of the sadness that I was allowing to envelope me, because that is, in essence, just what his words did. I decided, in that moment, I would not be 'the woman with the sad eyes.' Not for him, not for anyone else, and certainly not because of anyone else.
Like the choice to be bold, to be happy is a decision that we all have the power to make. We can not control what happens to us, and we certainly can not control the actions or emotions of other people. But we can control our reactions...we can choose to stay sad and invisible, or we can choose to be happy and bold.
Like the three fates and thier golden scissors, we alone have the power to cut the thread that bind us to sadness before it becomes an integral part of who we are. Sometimes we just need to be reminded that we possess this power. Sometimes, we need to listen to a stranger in a cafe, or a message that keeps appearing, or to an inner wisdom that we've been hearing all along.
And sometimes, we just need to be bold enough to cut the thread.