Hafez or Hafiz was a Persian poet who lived in the 1300’s. His work has been influential since that time even though little is actually known today about him and his life. His work made deep impressions on writers such as Thoreau, Goethe and Emerson with the latter referring to him as “a poet’s poet. Hafez has been a favorite since I became aware of his writing during my young “hippie days” (or was that “hippie daze”?)
In this piece, Hafez writes about depression and seemed knowledgeable about the subject hundreds of years before Jung and Freud. There are a few days per month I have to deal with “cycling depression” that brings a sort of dimness and lethargy into my life. Writing like the piece below from Hafez helps me understand I am far from alone. Many today suffer as I do and many did a hundred generations before me did too.
I know the voice of depression
Still calls to you.
I know those habits that can ruin your life
Still send their invitations.
But you are with the Friend now
And look so much stronger.
You can stay that way
And even bloom!
Learn to recognize the counterfeit coins
That may buy you just a moment of pleasure,
But then drag you for days
Like a broken man
Behind a farting camel…
O keep squeezing drops of the Sun
From your prayers and work and music
And from your companions’ beautiful laughter
And from the most insignificant movements
Of your own holy body.
Now, sweet one,
Cast all your votes for dancing!
In recent years the days of my depression usually pass like wind through a tree when limbs are moved by the passing but no damage is not done. Through counseling, support of peers and those who care about me, and reaching a level of understanding that “depression” is a ‘normal’ malady, I am much healthier today than ever before. Some deal with migraines; some throw their back out; I cope with depression. And I do it quite well these days and am grateful for all the love, support and insight that makes that possible.
If depression is creeping up and must be faced,
learn something about the nature of the beast:
You may escape without a mauling.
Dr. R. W. Shepherd