As I took the bus down from New York and passed the cowlicks of cordgrass that cover the marshes, I could think of nothing but swan dives. Men and women in caps and one pieces flying in the air. More mallard than mankind. Ladies appearing through the side stage of pines and arching into the water through the reeds.
The real power of nature for me has always been that it stirs me up. Like receiving a big phone call and standing and sitting, no longer understanding the purpose of either. Too wild for waiting. I think maybe these past couple years when I struggled to feel positive emotions what I really struggled with was the ability to let go. Both of things that have happened and that have not happened yet. And that is what is so hard about the way that humans seem from the outside. You cannot always tell, but we are brimming. There is an ocean inside us all. We are compelled and propelled by it, but it can be also a great weight. The weight of our limbs when they are injured or asleep.
Depression is a heavy sea. It's also a jigsaw puzzle of which the finished picture means no more than the jumble of pieces.
What if there's a somber truth at the heart of depression that like an unflattering mirror scares us soundly away? A friend put it thusly: "The truth is that nothing matters or doesn't matter; it just is...I think depressed people have a better grip on reality than non-depressed people, it forces them to evaluate and re-evaluate..." to find what matters. Life is more agreeable when you believe that a core group/our work/the world/our religion agree with us about what is important. Only we do not have to believe. And without belief all truth and myth are similar. All action and inaction are just the beating and skips of a heart.
In the beginning of "Tuesdays with Morrie," Morrie leaves the hospital after finding out he has only a few months to live, to complete amazement that the world exists. The sun still shines defiant, colors have decided to hold on to their hue, and people walk about as if the world has not been given a catastrophic end date. Because it hasn't. The world goes on. Nature, uhhhhhh finds a way. No challenge. No problem.
This is the indomitable truth of one in the cold bed of depression.
I always used to wonder why I liked sad movies and music so much. Why it shook me, but also gave me energy. I precociously wondered if it was a sheltered way of desiring the wisdom and character that tragedy brings, from the comfort of my bounce house. In College, after my heart was first broken, when almost nothing could make me smile, I doubted whether it was a healthy use of my empathy. Wondered if it was proof that my worst fear was true, I was negative, callous and mean. That witch's brew of personality traits that could mean only one thing, I was depressed.
As I aged, found passion, form and function. I even found, that god-feeling had begun to slip away when I heard those same Ryan Adams songs that absolutely ripped me in two when I was young. "I'm just not that person anymore," I said to myself. I'm actualized, full of joys and I just can't hang all droopy like I used to. And then in the fall of 2013, my father was diagnosed with ALS. At first, it just felt like an uncomfortable thing in my room. Like a thought that slips into your subconscious flips an emotional switch and slips away unnoticed. I felt confused but ultimately, unshaken.
But since then, both my mind and body have been failing, as if from faulty wiring. My thoughts seem completely out of my control at times. My body doesn't feel like my own either, it's twitching muscles, it's odd aches, it's restless worn feel. It has not kept me from being a person, has not kept me in bed. But it has kept me in a near constant refrain of "it sure is hard to care." I keep to my writing, to Shipwreck, to my day jobs, to personal hygiene, because these are things I used to believe i (and I know people tend to worry when you leave them), and because that is how I define myself by default.
I went to see "Wings of Desire," by Wim Wenders before I left New York; what I always trumpeted around as my favorite film. Well, I should own up to it, it IS my favorite film. In the same way that Under the Volcano and Pale Fire are my two favorite books. They are the ones I chose when I was really interested in the power of making something your favorite. I haven't used that word to describe much more than relatives and ice cream flavors in a quite a while. Then again, I'm less interested in informing people aggressively about who I am.
The reason it was my favorite movie, is that I had never had a stronger emotional reaction to a film in my life. I feel like I may have paused the movie to come back into my body a time or two (what do you do when your deep wells of emotion spew Texas tea?). Its poetry was the language of my breathing. And so I couldn't help but wonder if the movie paled in 2015 (I still love the movie, I just wasn't flush with even, nostalgia) because I'm no longer an age where I have a favorite movie, or because I'm in a period where I can't connect to the wells of inspiration and excitement that have been my second language since I was young.
Isn't it amazing to think, everyone is thinking all the time?
It's fascinating what you connect to when things are hard to connect with. Some would say you regress, but here's my take on it. You are drawn to the things that you most emotionally connect to those feelings. For me it's anime and video games. And sure enough during this most recent bout of anxiety I watched the first anime series start to finish that I've seen since I was in High School. I pulled the xbox out for the first time in years. I also ate more pizza than I drank water. That one, I think is fairly universal.
You realize, that when in a fog the breezes lead the way.
As I spend a while at home with my family. I have stripped myself of expectation. I will also try and release myself from judgement (of what I should be doing, or what I should be feeling), and just be. Here with my family. In the only moment that matters. And I will try and learn the practice of forgiving myself. And hope to see a little clearer, the ships and the fog both.
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