Monday, 30 June 2008


• Occasionally I, and everyone, go into an emotional slump. It is not trivial. The downers I speak of are those where life loses its zest, usually after a rejection, loss or emotional trauma. Feelings of failure can also bring it on. Winston Churchill and Meriweather Lewis both had chronic bouts of it. Lewis later committed suicide.

• We who live alone and travel are two steps removed from the normal entanglements like job and family that could distract us from our pain. And I do mean pain–for me in the gut. This really deep loss of self esteem and potency is what I want to address, not just a passing case of the blues.

• Here’s my advice to myself: First, I will not do anything drastic. Thoreau reminds us that "It is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things. It’s just too final. Years of happiness might begin in just a few days.

• Next, I signal my electronic friends–tell them I am hurting. Their support is helpful.

• Then I begin to remember past incidents like this one, how they came, stayed awhile and then left. I lost a lady in the 80's and suffered for months. Every few seconds I would grieve for her–only she could heal me–I thought. Eventually an hour would elapse between thoughts of her and finally a day and so on till one day my joy returned.

• Bouts of this special depression in my later years are thankfully shorter and shorter. On average they “hit” once every three months or so and last three to five days. Remembering this statistic helps carry me through.

• Here’s my analysis of these dark feelings: They are of course all in my head. Something in a current situation reminds us of that universal childhood experience of abandonment, the ultimate anxiety. Momma, our source of life, leaves the room. Our very being is in jeopardy. Soon we learn to repress this memory but not to disappear it. Like a hibernating bear it wakes from time to time to roar about.

• My final strategy is to retreat to my “watch” tower, my “observer” post. That part of me that transcends time–and from its impregnable space–quietly notice the roller coaster ride taking place below in my body and mind. Whitman described it best:

• “I am not contained between my hat and boots.
• Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am,
• Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle, unitary,
• Looks down with sidecurved head, curious what will come next,
• Both in and out of the game, and watching and wondering at it–
• I witness and wait.”

• I’m pleased to report to my supporting friends that this last bout seems over and life looks sweet again. THANK YOU!

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