This post is for a friend who is as perceptive as he is humorous. Yes, Mr. Petruska, that’s a compliment.
No Time For Kings hasn’t really been banned. It was reviewed here way back in 2013 when the world was merely simmering. Now that we are experiencing a full-blown meltdown, it’s time to get your hands on a copy of his book so that Mr. Petruska will feel the heat and get busy on the sequel. We all need a nudge now and then to let our light shine.
I was nudged toward a realization this week.
When I say nudged, I don’t mean like when you’re waiting in line, daydreaming that you are a brilliant human on the brink of a making the world a better place. You’re about to step on stage to give your TedTalk when suddenly, an urgent tap on the shoulder forces you to take notice that the line has moved. Better close that three foot gap before some stealthy line budger slips into that space and ruins your day. Has this ever happened to you? I bet it did before staying six feet apart in public became necessary.
The kind of nudge I’m talking about was a friendly reminder to speak my mind in the way that only I can. In other words, be authentic and share what I know to be true. Here goes. Depression is relentless, as deadly as any virus humanity has ever encountered. Depression is often perceived as a bad attitude to be shrugged off. Depression cannot be cured by some cautionary tale about slippery slopes easily avoided if only we focus on the positive. Depression is where the Devil’s careless mistress, resourceful in pursuit of satisfying appetites, will drag you down that slippery slope into a pit so deep not even a well-crafted hashtag campaign could rally enough support to pull you out.
Is depression a symptom of humanity’s dissatisfaction with modern society? Is it a global plague that afflicts body and soul? I don’t know. For certain, the stigma of mental illness is alive and well. The disgusted look on the face of someone you trust with your story is a particularly difficult part of experiencing depression and why so many people hide their struggle. I don’t have all the answers. I’ve learned that ignoring it, hoping that it will magically disappear doesn’t work. Disguising the pain doesn’t work. You don’t have to take my word for it. Countless suicides of those seemingly with everything to live for have left us with ample evidence. Perhaps a good first step would be to create an economy less dependent on shipping everything from raw materials to our garbage across the ocean and reduce the energy we expend in the accumulation of things that have no lasting value.
Today I find myself unable to react to the madness that has become the new normal in the world beyond my doorstep. The lava flow encroaches. I experience a surge of anxiety. Each keystroke reveals some raw emotion that gets edited out so that I can pretend everything is fine, even for an hour. I don’t crave drama. My threshold for outrage today, however, was when “Pictures of You” (The Cure) was interrupted by an ad for Shutterfly and “Bittersweet Symphony” (The Verve) got cut off by an ad for Grammarly. Seriously, as I typed these words, YouTube paused the music for an ad to “help me write clear and mistake free sentences”. AI is gaslighting me. I could download the soundtrack of my despair for $1.29 each on iTunes or just settle for whatever SiriusXM has curated based on my recent Google search or Amazon purchase or fleeting thought.
The air outside this morning was thick and delicious. Aromas sweet and earthy infused every breath with memories of what the world was like before the heat of a million menopausal moments made me despise every guru, life coach, humble bragger, pundit, and public nuisance on social media incinerated my best effort not to criticize, condemn, or complain. This is what happens when you realize your tribe is only your tribe as long as you pay your monthly membership fee become a cranky old lady still in her bathrobe at 3 in the afternoon, surfing the internet for signs of life.
The marvelous truth teller at Tales From The Motherland inspired this post when she replied to my comment on her blog that she feels “like she’s writing into a void right now.” I know my way around the void. I’ve been there many times. There’s nothing to lean on as you try to get your bearings. A long blank stare into the space around you reveals no exit. To get a better view, you have to traverse a ghostly expanse of unfamiliar terrain. There is a window, barely perceptible, in the distance. All you have to do is reach it and climb out.
The old, “when a door closes, a window opens,” is a tried and true platitude, but I prefer a more direct route out of the void. We are all trying to adapt to what is happening in the world around us. Modern society is experiencing a critical need for integrity, compassion, and accountability on a global scale. This moment is pivotal, publicly and personally, but it is not without precedent as so many seem to think.
Current events forcing us to reevaluate life in ways we haven’t had to before are no more daunting than past events. Recorded history provides us with examples of how disease, disenfranchisement, atrocities, and brutality have forced people to endure suffering and despair. There has never been a more important time to understand history. Knowledge of the past can help us navigate the present and build resilience for the future.
Resilience is a quality that is built over time. It requires an ability to pay attention to our own well-being. This is not selfishness. On the contrary, it increases our capacity to serve others. Four things that are vital to my well-being in this moment are:
Are you searching for a way out of the void? Be encouraged. You are not alone.