The Opposite of Depression…

…is vitality, says Andrew Solomon. Spot-on eloquence and tear-evoking insight, worth the 30 minutes to feel/hear this medicine of clarity. It is another example of what I recognize in my own life as radical grace.

 

“…shutting out the depression strengthens it; while you hide from it, it grows…our needs are our greatest assets…valuing one’s depression does not prevent a relapse, but it may make the prospect of relapse and even relapse itself easier to tolerate…I had learned in my own depression, how big an emotion can be, how it can be more real than facts and I have found that that experience has allowed me to experience positive emotion in a more intense and more focused way…the opposite of depression is not happiness but vitality and these days my life is vital, even on the days when I’m sad…I have discovered something inside myself that I would have to call a soul…I found a way to love my depression. I love it because it has forced me to find and cling to joy. I love it because each day I decide, sometimes gamely and sometimes against the moment’s reason, to cleave to the reasons for living and that, I think, is a highly privileged rapture.” Andrew Solomon

Shiny Badges

The older I get the more I realize how flimsy love can be in some relationships. And how ironically stalwart, solid in others and some just relentless, regardless of how inconvenient, unconventional and even mostly unavailable. I’ve left my marriage but the love is there for us both to be human (flawed), helpful (magnanimous) and flexible (willing to bend when it will help all of us). We aren’t married but, we’re married to the clean up of leftover messes and the nurturing of ongoing commitments. I’ve witnessed and been witnessed, all the worst colors of the bad and the ugly. And there’s not any petty stomping off like scared children on the playground way back in the mean streets of “elementary” school. It’s the same with my relationships with others – love full. But too few, in terms of solid, lasting maturity in relating. I look in the mirror and wonder why. I realize there are some things I’m just not going to tolerate, like being misrepresented intentionally – hence the loss of a “friend” I dearly loved last year and the resulting storm of lost connections because of the poison. And the year before? A friend of decades had no stomach for my lack of stomach for another turn of stomping on things precious, ironically. I wasn’t allowed to be human and so, no words for 2 years now. No vocal words, just those messages most safe, via social media and some texts. But I’m definitely out because I wasn’t able to do another dance with confusion in that particular long bond. I shake my head thinking of the many roundy rounds I’ve been through with confusion in another relationship. And some confusing rounds I instigated too. The love is still there. There’s no stomping away. It doesn’t seem to make any sense. But I try to make sense of it. Then there are those who are just lost in a sea of indignation because in spite of having unsuccessfully attempted to help them while being in the midst of some of my own surreal schedule and scary health challenges, I didn’t pull off the paint job. I scratch my head. This? This is love? These ridiculous missteps scattering people and creating twisted piles of “logic” like “I don’t have to say I’m sorry if I’m not sorry.” I want to say “Oh, really? Duh. Congratulations on knowing how no one makes you do a damn thing you don’t wanna. Congratulations on not feeling sorrow over loss. Congratulations on finding a shiny badge for that.”

And that is where I am after the last round of poetry and river song, somewhere between remembering the vibe of love and wondering why it has to be so randomly seemingly absent at times most critical. And why my own flaws can’t be less tiring, troublesome and hurtful. There are times when it truly feels like all the universe is waiting for is that one misstep or missed step and slam. But see now I’m whining. And I don’t do that if I can possibly help it but today, mostly, I would like to feel less affected by loss and more able to put on that shiny badge everyone else is so damn proud of.

Take Up My Cross

All your light casting, shadows me more fully,
cloaking every edge in protective dark,
these tools for tilling soil now barely discernible under cover cast in glaring goodness burning holes in the earth,
drying up precious liquid love ‘til all the corners beg and weep for mercy,
tears shedding grace where your face makes black all my light, churns the wells dry with your truth cruel,
condemning,
gloating over all my dreams as if,
as if they know no purity ‘neath the paltry structures granted me in my night,
all I had to work with, condemned for using what I had,
detested for making the most of what my eyes could see,
shaking hands now grime-covered in your blaring sun,
hands spent completely in the dirt so true.

Such unrelenting illumination blind and blinding to all that is precious.

Fly me to the moon, away from your ugly righteousness,
away from the crucifixion of divinity inherent,
flayed in the light of the only true way,
mocked in the surety of your refusal to see me,
lost to all the light you had to be,

shining so fully on the “obvious,”
missing the stuff, the substance,
the pulsing bone and home,
the am that I am.

Take up my cross, and set me down in moonlight,
cover me in dew ‘neath trees left to their soil,
arms gracing air, reaching for the night,
strip me of these garments cloaking,
woven in blaring light…

take me to
the love
that loves while seeing,
nurtures while correcting,
adores the inherent goodness beneath the flaws,
take me to the shade cool,

to the place made beautiful in the dance of light and dark, of soul’s sweetest song…

Shadow Driver

“If we insist that we have no shadow behaviors, we are denying that we are ever impatient, jealous, angry, fearful, envious, dishonest, bossy, judgemental, controlling, manipulative, or critical. All human beings are as responsible for their light as well as their shadow, and without recognizing both parts of ourselves we cannot heal.” Jamie Sams – Dancing the Dream

Denial isn’t one of my bigger pitfalls. But learning how my shadow can be medicine is another story. As obvious as others’ imbalances may be to me, I usually puzzle over my own. Example: “Why in the heck am I so ridiculously nasty impatient, race car driver maniac behind the wheel and so patient everywhere else?” I’m KNOWN by my friends and family, anyone who has ever been in my car while I’m behind the wheel. Known as the nascar nasty shoulda-been-a-career-driver. I don’t just drive like a demon. I do it well. (Knock on wood, fast!) But the thought of spending my life going in a fast car on a perpetual left-turn journey with fumes spewing into the air doesn’t appeal to me. No, I’d rather be on a perpetual left-turn journey through this shadowland, spewing nasty vibes behind the wheel of my car, clueless as to why. Cough.

Nature and “happenstance” are speaking to me more clearly lately. Sitting on the couch, talking with my daughter, looking out the window just in time to see a hawk swoop down low, only a couple feet from the ground. I know life is speaking. I get behind the wheel and I witness myself from the inside out. What have I learned? When the will is not actively engaged in acts uniquely important to the individual, the frustration comes out. Somewhere. Somehow. Me? In my car.

So, how do I know this? Well, the demon-driving has improved. I’m doing things I absolutely must do for me. And the list of “absolutely must” is more detailed and lengthy than it ever was before. But I admit. I will always wrestle rather extreme control-freak tendencies I suppress perpetually. They will have their say down shadow lane in a car with a redheaded dame asking the driver beyond if he would like to wait for the car coming from China, too. It just is what it is. It’s gross. But it keeps me awake to what I’m not swooping down on, scooping up for my sustenance (preferably nothing rodent-like). And shadow drivers find their path, too, beyond the frustrating obstructions and into the sunlight.

On. With. It.