I recognize these bouts of depression for what they are, a psychic expression of a chemical defect. It doesn't mean they lack punch, though. Explanation is a lousy defense when it comes to affairs of the mind. I ride them out the best I can, trying to avoid using food as medication and to rationalize the feelings into, if not submission, then an uneasy truce.
These are dark times for me, though. My life isn't going the way I'd like and while plenty of that is due to my own inertia there are real hurdles that must be overcome. This summer has been devoted in part to fighting my weight and it has been reasonably successful in that respect. I still have a very long way to go, but I've made progress every week and I've developed a healthy attitude about weightloss. I've also wrenched myself free from emotional eating, channeling that urge into emotional exercise. I walk for miles and miles, until I can almost feel the muscles in my legs cannibalizing themselves and I return home after dark, walking under the trees, listening to the crickets. This summer was supposed to be devoted to creative endeavours as well. It has been a monstrous failure. I have a few things I want to write and I've gotten a few tidbits done, but not nearly what I would have liked. Parts of that are due to unforseen obstacles, financial and personal. A lot of it is due to me. I've been unable, or perhaps unwilling, to be as disciplined and agressive as I have to be. That's acceptable for a couple of months, but it's getting to be more than that now and I have to change. I understand that intellectually but it's not an intellectual issue. It's a motivation and confidence issue. I can accept it for now, but what I worry about is whether I'll ever be able to get myself in gear. I have a problem self-motivating, and it's not easy to deal with. I probably need to just take the next job offered, no matter how heinous it is. At the very least it will give me grist for the mill and a good idea of what my fate will be if I can't get myself churning out the work. I have an idea for a story now that I'm going to write this weekend even if it kills me.
Sometimes I look inside myself and I see nothing there. It's very disconcerting. I know that I can be dynamic and exciting, but I can't call it up at will and at times I feel empty. Creativity has been credited to muses and gods for as long as people have been memorizing and telling stories, long before there were alphabets or written records of their works. I don't believe in any of that, I am a rational person and I think that the human brain is a gloriously complicated mess more than capable of churning out the millions upon millions of works that mankind has produced. On the other hand, sometimes the well does feel dry, and you just don't know how to call up more waters from below. It feels out of your hands, and at these points you would love to have a muse to blame or to invoke. I understand the impulse to throw oneself upon the mercy of divinity, just not the the rationale for actually doing so. What I need is stimulation, of a different kind than I've been getting. Stimulation that can only come from a radical shift in environment. I could travel or move, but I think that my first choice needs to be work. Many would be artists dream of the day when they can quit their day job. I need to find one.
My shrink told me, today, that I don't want a relationship. That's not true, I don't think myself capable of one. I don't believe that I have the discipline or the necessary qualities. I doubt I ever will. Despite routine accusations of arrogance I am my most strident self-critic. I don't have any trouble seeing my flaws. They are as clear as day to me and I could write about them endlessly, wallow in them as it were, but I don't believe that would be constructive. I don't think it would be worth reading either. These are the entries that I want to hide, not to expose to public view, because I know there are people who will read them and come away with the wrong perception. I am writing about a single facet of self, in order to record it, study it, and expunge some of the demons that reside within. It isn't a particularly interesting process for those on the outside. This is a society that revels in self-examination but has trouble examining others. I think the writing here is clear and strong, but it is futile because the subject is all wrong. I need to match style and substance in the right way. Perhaps I should make this journal entirely private, or share it only with those I know and trust. Perhaps I should keep it to the occasional essay or story that pleases me. It's not the process as I originally envisioned it, but I don't want to inflict these entries on the world at large and I don't want to restrict them. They are valves for my built up frustration that allow me to maintain my sanity. By the time I am done writing one I almost always feel better, relaxed and recomposed like a state of post-orgasmic bliss. I am conflicted, though. It's exhibisionist tripe. Now it's self-referential exhibisionist tripe.
Each day is a new one. We cannot bear the collected weights of our mistakes and failures upon our shoulders. It would be an unbearable burden for any human. I think one of the most important goals I need to set is to lay those weights down in the past where they belong and keep moving forward. Every life is a web of failure and disapointment, interwoven with the thin golden threads of success. Hemmingway was a drunk who shot himself, Ted Kennedy drinks like a fish and killed a young woman, Socrates used to sexually abuse young boys, and man was he ugly. I could talk about the failures and misteps of George W Bush, but I would like to get to sleep at some point. We don't hear about the failures, at least not often enough to accept their magnitude. We must learn about them for ourselves, in our own lives, with our own sweat and tears. To err is human. To transcend is divine.
P.S. John Kerry's speech was better than I expected but still rather stinky. There were a bunch of gaffs on his part, and plenty of non-sequitors and sillyness. One particularly amusing thing is that when it ended they put on "Beautiful Day" by U2. Right before that he was chattering on about "America this" "America that." They couldn't find an American tune to play? He entered to a totally inappropriate Bruce Springstein song. He should have gone with something more his speed, like The Mamas and the Papas, or Enya.