Chronicles in Ordinary Time 55: Defining Ourselves

Medicine BottleI wrote about this subject not long ago; [Chronicles in Ordinary Time 47: Black Care] I still don’t have any answers. So why am I writing about it again…
A comic genius died this week, a man who was one year and eleven days older than I am. A man I’ve never met; a man I’ve spent hundreds of hours with over the last 40 years. A man who made me laugh. Making me laugh isn’t all that easy.
Parkinson’s apparently was the straw that broke his will. Or not; ‘why’ probably isn’t our need to know.

For “15 minutes” the American public is going to be all concerned about depression. It’s a normal response; how one responds to a situation that is foreign, not part of our experience; one doesn’t really understand, and one can’t fix it. My guess is that if they are like myself, people suffering from Depression don’t talk about it all that much. I talk about it here, because this place is fairly anonymous; I could be a 14 year-old teenage girl… But I’m not.

I’m watching “Pay It Forward” as I write; probably not the best movie to watch when I’m in this kind of space. Or maybe it is… Haley Joel Osment just asked, “Is the world just shit?” And he just found out that it isn’t, always. There are lights in the darkness.

I’ve been on anti-depressants since the 80s or the 90s; for most of that time, I’ve thought of them as something that helps me sleep. I can prove it by the dosage I take. But, they’re still a chemical that affects the brain; they’re still an anti-depressant. Prozac got added, a year or so ago; maybe two years. This one I know is for the Depression.

Why is the Depression here? I do not know. My kids don’t know this, I never talk about it. I had an alcoholic uncle; he was a real SOB. A very controlling Dad; my kids know about him. Implies something about my grandparents. Genes.  How much of what we are is genetic? I think maybe we aren’t controlled by our genes. I think they are a powerful influence, but I think we can be larger than our genes. Sometimes it requires some assistance.

I think some people are too scared, or something. I guess it’s hard for people who are so used to things the way they are – even if they’re bad – to change. ‘Cause they kind of give up. And when they do, everybody kind of loses.” Pay It Forward [2000]

I believe we can be more than our genes because I have had some success in getting past myself; getting outside of myself. Being the person I am, I’m going to attribute this to the Spirit of the Creator at work in my life. I’ve never been seriously suicidal. Meaning, I’ve never made an attempt. I’ve contemplated it a lot over the years; I know how I’d like to do it, if I ever got there. With my body “dissolving” the idea tends to seem more worthwhile…The ‘problem’ is, that there’s always a new day when I wake up. This should not be presumed to mean that I wake up in the morning feeling good; I suppose the event may have happened some time in the past, beyond my memory [and I just remembered an instance]. There were mornings at our family cabin. My bed was under the roof, at the end of the stair opening; from my bed I could see the fireplace. In the morning I would wake up to the sound of a crackling fire, the smell of woodsmoke, the knowledge that my grandfather was following his normal routine of making the morning fire to heat the cabin…

For years I’ve awakened each morning feeling crummy; my CPAP machine hasn’t helped. While each new day feels bad, I know from past experience that this probably isn’t the way I’ll feel all of the day. Some days it’s most of the day, and those days are the difficult ones. I get through these days because I am aware that the alternative will hurt my family; and that isn’t an acceptable solution.

I was writing a friend the other night; while writing, I described myself as a sort of ‘monk’. A monk with a wife, with kids and a home and a job. My wife added the label, “a Contemplative.” That works, too. A long time ago I gave my life back to my Creator; an odd thing for an atheist to do. I’ve made an effort to not become religious; and in spite of my efforts, I seem to have become really ‘spiritual’ compared to the people I know, that don’t give much thought to spiritual matters. I find myself coming away from conversations about Life, asking myself, ‘how did I become so darn spiritual?’ It certainly wasn’t my intention. And since I don’t have any answers, unlike so many religious people I’ve known over the years, it seems like an inappropriate allocation of ‘spiritual’. I sort of think of myself as being similar to Ellis Peters’ “Cadfael”—the soldier who became a monk in the 1100s, having grown tired of war during the Crusades—but I know nothing about herbs, and have never seen a murdered body; and I’m not very adept at solving mysteries. But I think about ‘God-stuff’ all the time. Being a commercial artist by trade gives one a lot of time to think. A lot of art is repetitive, and it doesn’t require continual thought to accomplish a task.

I’m doing Physical Therapy to help with the effects of the neuropathy; I’ve never been a guy who is into fitness. I find that I’m needing to ‘write’ a new definition for myself. I’m a guy who has defined myself by my work for four decades; willing to abuse my body to accomplish work-goals. That definition isn’t working anymore. I’ve purposely stopped looking for new work, in preparation for ‘retirement’—whatever that means. I can’t yet imagine not working.  I think it means that I’m going to start working only on projects I’m interested in, rather than taking whatever project comes along that will pay something. And I’m learning how to get interested in taking care of my body. I know that I’m supposed to reverse the last two sentences.

I do most of what I do by routine; if I have a routine, I don’t need to think about it all that much. So now I’m working on making new routines; and it’s amazing, when I step out of myself, to see how difficult it is to make new routines. And how difficult it is to think of myself as the guy who takes better care of myself…

 

Della p7dwg

 

 

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