Friday, June 21, 2013

a humbling shade of gray

Sometimes, regrettably, I experience thoughts very arrogant in nature. Someone will come to me, tell me their troubles, and I might have thoughts like these:

Why don't you just say _________? Why don't you just do _________? Why not try looking at it this way:_________? 

Or sometimes the thoughts may come: 

If they could just look at it from a higher perspective, the stress would dissipate. If they had the clarity or patience or willingness to question what they're thinking, I'm pretty sure their troubles wouldn't be seen as troubles anymore. If only they did this, if only they did that...

Fortunately, I know better than to say those kinds of things out loud unless asked; but even then, it sometimes seems best not to say what I really think; reporting the truth as I see it still feels dangerous to me sometimes - even in my closest relationships where that bold kind of honesty has been agreed upon. 

Regardless, whether they're spoken out loud or not, I have to admit that those thoughts appear from time to time. And as someone who has come to see themselves - based, in part, on what others have told me - as a person with occasionally helpful insight, as someone who prides themselves on being someone that people turn to, it's hard for me to admit that. It's hard to admit that I have thoughts that aren't as loving or patient as I might appear. 

One of the glorious, nasty things I love about Life, however, is the way in which it inevitably comes to knock you off your pedestal; the kind, if not alarming, manner that it comes and reveals to you what you've been missing; how it handily arrives to suggest that maybe, just maybe, your thinking has been a little off. During this last spell of depression, unbathed, pitiful, not wanting to be awake, I see upon reflection, that's exactly what was being worked on in me. As I laid on my bedroom floor, not wanting to move, or do anything, for that matter, I listened to the mental soundtrack playing: a chorus of all that was wrong, all that I should be doing, all that I should be - none of which was so in the moment - and I couldn't force myself to get up. I couldn't force myself to move. Or be happy. Or spiritual. Or wise. I couldn't have a positive outlook when I simply didn't. The thoughts that come are toxic; they're mired in a slimy sort of bleakness - and there's an onslaught of them; ruthless and anger-provoking. It's the inexplicable mixture of feeling that you are drowning in quicksand while being shot with fiery darts. The thoughts that simultaneously paralyze and incense you while depressed just don't appear as often when you're not; they aren't as relentless or intense as they are with a medicated brain. I think depression is just an exaggerated version of what a so-called normal mind perpetuates every day; it's nothing short of a neurotic storyteller convinced of its separateness; an entity certain of its rightness and feeling entitled to its miserable story-line, counter-productive or not.

If I wasn't able to snap out of my drama and make myself Do Something, if I wasn't capable of putting on a happy face and finding gratitude I couldn't locate, how could I ever expect that anyone else could or should? If it's so easy to transcend mental suffering, what has been my problem? If it's so easy, I should live it. Who am I to rush someone to a realization that isn't even theirs - or mine, apparently? That is not only ridiculous, it's insane. How can a person reach for a thought or take a particular course of action they don't have access to in the moment? I think this episode has brought me some more, and genuine, compassion. I don't want people to suffer, and if there's something I can do to help, I will. If there's something I feel right in saying, I'll say it. But I've been reminded - and I sincerely got the message this time - that I'm not here to save anyone or fix them; certainly not to judge them for not seeing things from a different or wider perspective when they don't. I'm here to be present with them, period - regardless of what they might be thinking or feeling. It is a privilege, and I'm honored when someone confides in me, so I want to be very mindful of my thoughts and attitude in the future. Love is to be with someone in their pain, or joy, holding the space with them midst whatever emotions or story-lines are present, without attempting to alter or change their situation. Whatever they do, whatever they choose, it's none of my business. Change - mine, theirs, everyone's - is up to Change itself.

You can't force anyone, even yourself, to experience or recognize something that you don't yet. I love knowing that.

I talked to Emily this week, which was really nice; hadn't been in touch lately but as always, we laughed and had a good chat. After laughing about something or another, I guess sensing my spirits have returned, she told me that it sounded like I was "back in black." I said, well, I'm not to black yet, maybe a light shade of gray. I'm on my way to "black," though; darker by and by - and that's cool. I'd like to find peace with gray, with mediocre, with lost but ever hopeful, with sometimes mad, but sane and willing more than not - because that's what IS.

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