It’s like cancer. Either you’ve had it or you love someone who’s had it. And it comes in a huge variety. Like headaches. Benign and fleeting or heavy and serious and in rare cases, deadly.
Feeling depressed here and there is leaps and bounds from chronic debilitating depression that interferes with your relationships and passions and work and everything else…but mostly your natural state. Your birth right. Your happiness.
What is happiness anyways? I think it comes from the joy we find in the moment.
I’m sitting here in my bathrobe, nursing Skyla while Giovanna draws with a pen in Daddy’s old notebook, pondering depression and happiness and joy. I’ve had a bad morning and I’m sad and I’m wondering when things will get easier and when I won’t feel so bewildered by life.
The sun just broke through a few clouds, bringing with it an immense shining of gratitude. I want to climb out of the hole but I can’t find the first step. So I ask myself, what’s Good about this moment?
The sky. The lake. The abundance of trees. The sweet fuzzy head between my arms. The curly talking head to my right. The laptop beneath my fingers. The people on the other side of my phone.
If you stop enjoying that which you once loved, day after day and week after week, I hope you seek help in a professional or a loved one or both. This is the kind of depression that needs treatment, though I’m sure there are as many definitions of depression as there are people who experience it. Likewise, depression does not arise from an isolated reason but from a complex web of experiences, past and present; the tangles in your auric field.
And then there’s the anxiety that either contributes to depression or is often a byproduct of depression. Suffice it to say that depressed people have a lot to worry about, and people who worry have a lot to be depressed about. The world is just so damn scary and evil and hard. Even white middle-class Americans like myself know that things can fall apart in a second, and nothing is guaranteed. When we have our basic needs met, we have everything to lose. What’s more, we have expectations. We want to know deep satisfaction and purpose and maybe even a certain version of “success.” Maybe we don’t believe ordinary is enough; maybe we want more. We think happiness is something to find or have or keep or achieve.
A loved one recently shared with me a transcontinental conversation with a loved one of her own, an African man who is happy in spite of living in poverty. He makes $30 per month, most of which goes to his daughter’s school fees and medical care. He lives with no running water, no electricity, but plenty of death. He said that because of the struggle to survive, Africans live only day to day and don’t worry about tomorrow.
In other words, they live in the moment, and not because they’re trying to be zen or mindful. If they get to eat today, then today is a good day.
He said: if you worry about tomorrow, you’ll go mad.
Simple truths are often the most profound, the most important to digest and understand.
May we remember this when we find ourselves in billows of stress. May we take this to heart when we become paralyzed by anxiety. May we focus on enjoying the moment rather than preparing for the future. May we practice looking for the Good so our minds stay healthy. May we turn down the volume so we can live in peace.
Just do what you can, now.