Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Meditations in a Rational Moment

That last post was a doozy, and while I think I needed to get that it off my chest, I didn't like having it sit up there at the top. Time to cheer up. Time to move on.

First things first: I know a lot of people found that last post by searching the depression tag on Tumblr, which, if you've ever done that (TRIGGER WARNING), you'll know is about the most devastating thing you can do. If you've been led to this post in the same way, then I hope you read this too: I know that when things seem hopeless, it's hard for someone to make you magically feel better - there's no switch to get flipped, there's no way to just force yourself back into a happy mood. Know that these things take time, life will not always seem awful, and there's no sense in punishing yourself for what you perceive as your shortcomings. Just saying that doesn't make much of a difference, I know; but knowing it intellectually, just telling yourself that you don't deserve the sadness or the pain, even if you don't believe it at first, is an important first step. Take note of your emotional state, and don't do things to yourself or make big decisions when you're not doing well or thinking rationally. Everything seems so much worse and more apocalyptically bad when you're upset. Take it from me, in a rational moment: a good period will always turn into a bad one, and a bad period will always turn back into a good one. You gotta learn to ride the wave of your emotions, to use a slightly ridiculous but apt metaphor. And talk to people. Find people who will listen to you. Call a hotline if you don't know anyone who will listen. Get it out of you. Don't feed it into the unsatisfying echo chamber of your Tumblr. Channel it into something productive (wash the dishes, clean, go for a walk) or creative (write stories, draw pictures, make music). Or put it somewhere where you'll hear something back.

As for me, my life is moving along at a better pace already. Sometimes it takes that incredible despair to get you up out of the pits, moving again, whether to spite yourself for feeling so low, or just because ENOUGH already. That's been my experience, anyway.

So the prospect of living life is a lot closer, and that's still moderately terrifying, but as pieces fall into place I feel more or less okay about it. It's easier to move when you already have momentum, it's starting to move that is terrible. And the waiting. The long, awful period of waiting and wondering what's going to happen in my life. Maybe that feeling never fully goes away. Maybe it's something you just have to live with. Sometimes you have to live with your sadness. And that's okay.

Today's Rilke reading is wonderfully apt. From Letters to a Young Poet, which is required reading for every aspiring writer/artist:

It seems to me that all our sadnesses are moments of tension that we
feel as paralysis because we can no longer experience our banished
feelings. Because we are alone with the unfamiliar presence that has
entered us, because we feel momentarily abandoned by what we've
believed and grown accustomed to; because we can't keep standing
as the ground shifts under our feet. That is why the sadness passes
over like a wave. The new presence inside us, that which has come to
us, has entered our heart, has found its way to its innermost chamber,
and is no longer even there—it is already in our blood. And we don't
know what it was. We could easily be persuaded that nothing
happened, and yet something has changed inside us, as a house changes
when a guest comes into it. We cannot say who has entered, we may
never know, but there are many indications that the future enters us
in just this way, to transform itself within us long before it happens.
That is why it is so important to be alone and attentive when you are
sad: because the seemingly uneventful and motionless moment when
our future steps into us is so much closer to life than any loud and
accidental point of time which occurs, as it were, from the outside.

1 comment:

  1. Nothing beats "Letters to a Young Poet." But you might also enjoy "The War of Art" by Steven Pressfield, another great book for any aspiring artist