I am in Cambodia volunteering as a counselor at a retreat for women. The majority of the attendees are from Cambodia. There’s a smattering of women from Canada, Australia and the US as well. As I get to know the women and their stories, I am reminded that sadness knows no boundaries in terms of location and privilege. I want to honor the differences between cultures but I realize more and more the common thread that binds us: want.  The want for something different.  When the want goes unsatisfied, sadness and depression set in.

I am not criticizing the want. Simply noticing it. Giving a voice to it so to speak. The want for a better life or health isn’t wrong or bad; when it goes unmet, we hurt. And that makes sense. It’s good to acknowledge the sadness that comes with an unmet want. The acknowledgement is actually part of the healing. Once acknowledged, we can move toward acceptance of reality. We might not be able to change our situation but we can breathe. We can reach out to others who will accept us in our sadness and just sit with us. Often when we have been heard, we will figure out what our next step needs to be.

I have not met a single person who doesn’t feel sadness and depression at times. I have not met a person who doesn’t want for something. Regardless of geographical location, I believe, if we are honest, we are more alike than different.