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  • Karl Thunemann

Karl's Keyboard #10

Updated: Dec 29, 2020

A Triptych Tribute to the Saturnine, aka Sadness

How rarely a blogger gets a chance to write something he deems important, and then sets it aside for a year before he actually posts it. So it is with this Keyboard’s featured epistles on the subject of sadness, or, as I prefer saturninity. I had already been writing posts for more than a year, but there was no blog yet. It would not appear for a several months—and when it did, I was not quite ready to blast my readers with three epistles on sadness.

Now I am ready. The posts appear here exactly as written a year ago. I feel a little unnerved, enough so that I recently have read a bit on the internet about the difference between sadness and depression. Through much of my life, well-meaning people have invited me to seek treatment for depression, but I always resisted. Fear was part of my reluctance, but something else lay beneath that. Now it seems that sadness—grief—lay beneath my feelings and behavior for nearly 70 years. But in the form of grief—literally, an emotional separation from my family—my condition was part of a normal response. I never gave up hope. Depression, as I understand it, is more dangerous and requires treatment. I do see a counselor, but I feel as if she is treating me primarily for sadness.

And so, you might ask, When will your sadness lift? In most ways, it already has. But sometimes, mostly when looking over my spouse’s shoulder to drop in on a Zoom session, I will catch an on-screen glimpse of my own serious visage, perhaps even betraying consternation, when I am only trying to follow the conversation. This reminds me of many occasions when people have asked with concern, Is something troubling you? Usually the answer was negative. Some of my lifelong sadness is baked into my expressions and behavior.

I can live with this. I do not expect to banish sadness, but to treat it—even in myself—with kindness and compassion. I do not know how long I will live, but patience is an essential component of compassion.

And one thing that helps is to turn my attention to new frontiers. Featured posts today also include my first look into the human biome—our bacterial fellow travelers. I have just started that inquiry, and figure I have a long way to travel!

Why should you care about Taoism? Curiosity is always a motivator. And, if you are a regular reader of this blog, it may help to understand Taoism, as in influences my thinking.

Featured in this Keyboard:

Meet a New Occasional Contributor

·I met Robert Anderson about seven years ago when Faith and I moved to the co-op and were adopted by Pattsie Brown, one of its founders. Andy and Pattsie have been romantic partners for 15 years, but they don’t live together. Pattsie has family reasons to stay here, and Andy, as she refers to him is attached to San Francisco. He owns two flats with phenomenal views on Telegraph Hill. The city itself is even incorporated in his email address!Pattsie and Andy have engaged in a series of home-and-home visits over the years, flying in to spend 10 days with each other. Naturally, we came to think of Andy as one of ours. We would even change the meeting time of our writers’ group so he could attend! But the pandemic has changed everything. There’s no way Pattsie and Andy, both at age 90, could continue flying back and forth. I missed Andy and wrote him to see if we could be email friends; perhaps he could write an occasional. He shot back a reply that cried out for posting. Maybe it will appear eventually, but it has been overtaken by events. Now we live in a time of wildfire!

And from one of our frequent contributors

Imperfection and Me. Once the idea of perfection took hold of a little boy, he would spend a lifetime pursuing it. And just wait until Le Petit Prince arrives! By John Scarborough

A Big Huzzah

Here is a poem to consider. Have whites taken too long to join the quest for equality?

Let’s have more dialogue!

There are two ways to take part:

1. Post a comment on the blog! Some readers haven felt frustrated with this, but it is pretty simple: To comment on the blog: scroll down to the bottom of the post, where there is a comments box. You will have to leave a name in order to comment, but all other information is optional. It will give the option to leave your fb, Twitter, or Gmail but you don't have to.

2. Consider becoming a contributor. I will consider posts about meditation, broadly defined. I prefer stories over instruction, but I am flexible. I like posts shorter than 1,000 words. Send your proposed text—or a query—to me at

Til next time …

During times of strife and national disasters, it is important to maintain our meditative practices. And if perhaps you have a rain dance stashed away in your shamanic closet, this would be a perfect time to bring it out and put it to work.


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