Like Wind Through a Tree

When the visitor used to come to call my life had much less color and texture.  The variance of hues and shades meant almost nothing.  To look into another’s face and make direct eye contact I rarely did during those times for fear each person would figure out what was going on and think less of me.      

My ability to look ahead to what tomorrow, next week or next year might contain was usually shrouded with a dark and dense mist when the guest was around.  My only clarity of perception seemed to be when I looked over my shoulder at the past.  In those looks backward I usually found the thunder and lightning of old “storms” to relive and endure.   

When the caller was nearby to eat became an obligation.  At best, the texture and flavor of food was bland and uninteresting.  I had little appetite except when I compulsively ate every thing in sight, but tasted little of it.  

The visitor lead me often to wish I worked somewhere else, was in a different profession or did not have to work at all. Focusing on anything in order to do a job well was difficult because of all the distractions within my mental whirlwind.  Thoughts bounced like a ball in a pinball machine with flashes and noise containing at best only momentary substance.  

While the traveler was with me thoughts of getting lost in the world traveling vagabond style or joining the Peace Corps were always strong.  I felt compelled then to run away and disappear, to be anywhere but “here”.  I twisted those true lifetime hopes and dreams of free travel or service into escape routes from my life. 

The visitor and I most often holed up in my home, daydreaming with the TV on, escaping into movies while rarely speaking or seeing any one else unless I had to.  When my “guest” came to call I felt a general gloominess about life seasoned heavily with sadness for the past and despair about future prospects. 

My visitor’s name is spelled with 10 letters and starts with a “D”.  It is called Depression.  Until a few years ago I all knew was for a few days each month I went through a time when nothing mattered much and I folded into myself.  At those times my self view was distorted and quite displeasing.  Flaws, imperfections and old mistakes came to call as I tried to find a way to undo them or find a fix.  Of course I never did and trying to do so was like pouring gasoline on a fire.  

Life is different today.  My diagnosis is “moderate cycling depression”.  Luckily I don’t have to deal with the deep, dark pits of despair many have to cope with (I am very grateful!).  Through lots of work on my own researching, meditating and studying I have come to understand my condition.  There has been some professional assistance.  While thankful for their help, they served mainly to throw some little light on my path so I would take another step… then another.  The work to overcome and manage my depression was something only I could do. 

Today, I can feel my old friend “D” before it is actually near.  As depression begins to show on my horizon, life starts to lose a bit of its zing and my mind starts to spin with old “what happened’s” and future “what if’s”.  Coping is mostly about understanding.  I know the moderate depression will live with me for several days and no longer try to fight it when it comes.  Rather, I do my best to let it pass through me like wind that shakes a tree’s limbs as it goes by but does no real damage.  I read once if wind did not regularly move a tree the roots would be so weak even a one time gentle breeze would knock the tree over.  Today I use the “wind” of my depression to make me stronger in much the same way.  

Anymore the cycling depression does not bother me a lot.  When that “wind” comes I know I won’t get much done at work or at home, will sleep a bit more, keep to myself  and have more than usual couch TV time.  I accept that and it’s OK.  Giving up my resistance to it and just letting the depression pass through me has made the condition at worst a largely minor irritant.  I don’t fear it, hate it, fight it or feel less than because of it anymore. 

One might think only a fool would be grateful for depression, and I can’t say I am one of them.  However I am thankful for the lessons it is teaching me.  By accepting my condition and being willing to bear it makes my roots stronger.  Paying attention to where my mind goes when depressed frequently points to areas I either need to work on or make peace with. 

Acceptance of the way things are and finding ways to learn from difficulty is proving to be one of the greatest learning experiences of my life.  It is impossible to completely master such teachings, but in my attempts and the resulting wisdom I am blessed.  When I am grateful for what “is”, my hopes are strengthened and my blessings are multiplied.   

Attitude is Everything by Portia Nelson
Chapter 1
I walk down the street.
there is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost…I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.
Chapter 2
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
Bit it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.
Chapter 3
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in….it’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.
Chapter 4
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.
Chapter 5
I walk down another street

2 thoughts on “Like Wind Through a Tree

  1. “There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.” |Epictetus|

  2. Attitude is everything and also recognizing that no matter the storm, there are others who would appreciate being comforted by us because their burdens are great; even greater than ours.
    Be blessed!

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