The bittersweet is… an authentic and elevating response to the problem of being alive in a deeply flawed yet stubbornly beautiful world. Most of all, bittersweetness shows us how to respond to pain: by acknowledging it, and attempting to turn it into art, the way the musicians do, or healing, or innovation, or anything else that nourishes the soul. If we don’t transform our sorrows and longings, we can end up inflicting them on others via abuse, domination, neglect. But if we realize that all humans know — or will know — loss and suffering, we can turn toward each other.
Perhaps this is why music means so much to us, because music does bittersweet so well. Expressed in music it becomes such a beautiful pain. It makes us deliciously vulnerable. It opens up the heart. Can any other medium make us this sad and yet feel uplifting at the same time? I might feel this way because I am a musician and bittersweet sounds are dear to me. I am sure others get the same feeling from poetry or images. I have never wept at seeing a painting or reading a poem, although I might have come close… but music can do that to me. How about you?