28 October 2009

Depression as an Opportunity

What is depression but an opportunity to tackle (bear hug) an emotive and neglected soul?

A loom to climb upon between layers of lint and dust atmosphere, a toy to fight for-cry over. Big energetic snow dog, tail wagging against the flattened tire, is only a symbol of much needed warmth. "Your teeth are strung with tendons, does this mean you have to leave? No, please, don't 'leave', run away, into...The sky dominates the vast, empty, long transformed, shrubby excuse for land. Broken and vulnerable. Streaks of light discover themselves illumined orange on the abrupt white peaks, reflecting and being absorbed into the supple and defiant storm clouds. Abyss. Isolated rain bursts alternate preseance of the horizon. The dream landscape has escaped its prison, has broken into my waking. Turned inside beyond. "Is the spiritual world this beautiful?" "Can it really be this lonely?

Going back home to Taos where I grew up is always accompanied by nostalgia and beauty, but more and more now, by depression and angst. I try so hard to cling on to its foundation of my life. The dirt is too soft however, too many ghosts. There are many different memories, places, situations, songs, movies, even people, that invoke these feelings. It seems natural to avoid situations which bring them about, but is it healthy to avoid them?

Awake...again...but from where? The gray skies, the muddy memories. What have I done now, at this moment (the only one that matters), to deserve the events drawing me into these warm blankets. What does it mean, standing here, eyes fixed in the mirror, this flesh is still so young, someday old with rot. He couldn't understand. The mold in the corner. How every indication of age and growth all boiled down to the single moment. Now cold, damp, alone. Alive, terribly. Exhilarating sadness.

I remember moving to Oregon from Taos in the 8th grade. Moving from the expansive skies and towering mountains which could be seen from miles away, I was suddenly in a place sunk in, always damp and gray. I didn't get along with anybody either, for the first year I was largely friendless and alone. Never had I been so depressed; never had I felt anything so strongly. After a while it became exhilarating. I started to seek that isolation, not as a form of nihilism or narcissism, but as a form of self reckoning. I began walking around the city late at night, writing poetry, reading books, listening to the Doors, and doing other things which fed this feeling of being truly alive and authentic.

I think we have grown up in a culture that emphasizes self-distraction. When we say, "I need to get motivated", what we really mean is, "I need something to distract me from this desperate loneliness and pain that I feel". Psychiatric treatment can be useful and necessary, especially when a person has been through a traumatic experience or the brain's chemical state has been altered. But generally, by pursuing distraction, aren't we just avoiding the existential fear of nothingness, fear of mortality, fear of God, when we need to be embracing it? What if God resides in our depression? What it is the gateway to our liberation?

1 comment:

  1. Jason,

    I read this one just now and want to say that I understand some of that feeling.
    I moved from a throbbing highly intense metropolitan mega city to a small town 6 years ago,.The change was abrupt and monumental.
    But having no more escape route and having accepted it, I have grown, I know more now ...
    I am sharing this with my brother in Fl.