Thursday, January 21, 2010

This post not for the faint of heart.

Occasionally I like to type in "depression" and see what stock images come up. For such an unfunny illness, there sure are a lot of humorous pictorial depictions of it. Sometimes I feel like I'm walking alone on a boardwalk in the middle of the ocean, too.

Anyway, I've been meaning to publish a post on this topic all week, but have been holding out for more inspiration to come, so I could present it in the most profound way possible. As it turns out, I'm only 21, and not very profound yet. Still, even at this tender age, I have adages, too.

Today's is about day-to-day living. In my short life span thus far, I have become convinced of two things. One: Happiness and Sadness both are fleeting, and Two: Living is a conscious act. Now, before you call mental health services on me, let me explain.

Like most people, I spend a good portion of my life pursuing happy moments (it's my God-given right, right?) And like most people, I've eventually been confronted with the fact that obtaining happiness does not guarantee retaining it permanently. Maybe it's the natural undulating quality of mankind, or maybe I haven't sought happiness in the right things quite yet. Either way, I find that as a result, I tend to cling to my happy moments like they are the last flight out of Vietnam, willing them with all my might to stay; to defy time and last forever. Consequently, happiness often has an anxious quality about it because it is underscored by the dreadful knowledge that all of this must eventually end.

Conversely, it seems that so many of my difficult moments are simply endured, and endured only because they promise better times ahead. While this is a proven survival technique, I've begun to wonder whether there isn't a more noble way to process all of this...

...and decided that, indeed, there is. It was first introduced to me in the depressive's bible, The Noonday Demon by Andrew Solomon. Imparting learned wisdom to his readers, Solomon encourages his fellow melancholiacs to "inhabit every moment." I think probably no other piece of advice has ever resounded with me so immediately and so completely. It makes so much sense, it feels so right to be fully present for each moment. Happiness is not spent dreading Sadness, and Sadness is not spent looking forward to Happiness. They just are, right here, right now. How can we afford to live any other way?

I feel myself waxing lame, so I'm going to expedite the rest of this epiphany. The point is, I'm officially convinced of the importance of fully living - that is, inhabiting - every moment that I experience. When I am happy, I enjoy it, and I am grateful. I roll around in it like a spot of sunshine on the carpet and try to keep from dreading its inevitable end - that horrible knowledge that all this will soon be over - because the fact is that it isn't over yet . Now is all I have to experience, and right now is happiness. And when Sadness comes, well, I try to roll around in that, too - fully feeling every pain that enters me, letting it run its course in me, coming to know it as intimitely as I know my best friend. It doesn't matter that I'm tired of knowing it, because the truth is that whether or not I am conscious of it, each day I live is another day that I have chosen to remain here, confronting these moments.

Dag nab it, I was really hoping this wouldn't become one of those "live every day to the fullest" posts. I guess that is what I'm essentially saying, but I just hate cliches so. Oh well, the damage is done.

I am grateful for pain. Not only does it make my highs more high, but it is a surefire way of maintaining meaning in my life.

Whoooaa there, bet you weren't expecting me to whip this puppy out today, were you.
Next time I'll try to write about how plaid is the new pink or something.

Anyway, here's some cute pigs.


Joe and Christie said...

Mish! Where has this post been hiding?? I didn't see it until today, so ignore the similarities in the entry I just published (I also refer to Noonday).

I wish I could say something deep to acknowledge your deepness, but all that comes to mind is that you are an amazing person. I'm lucky to know you and I empathize with the pain you feel.

Tiffany said...

I somehow missed this post until now, too, and right after I chastised you tonight for not blogging! Holy profound, Mish! You are so deep, inspiring, and express it all in such a fresh, sincere, and poignant way. I love hearing your thoughts on such things, and on everything, really. R, T, B, and the other one (can't remember initial) are so lucky to know you, but I am the luckiest because you are mine forever!

Karrot Soup said...

Apparently I'm even more behind on noticing your post -- but you're now the 3rd person I respect to recommend that Noonday book, so I've gotta go get that. I have other stuff to say, but it's hard to put in a comment (which is why I didn't comment on yours either Christie, though I loved it) so I'll save it up a little while.


Bryce said...

Most Behind Sibling Award goes to me! Interesting post, Mish! We should talk about it some time.