Finding the Calm

There is a good reason I haven’t posted anything significant in a long while. I have been struggling with depression and anxiety for a while, with all the attendant feelings of worthlessness and doubt. That makes you doubt every word and idea, every thought you want to share with others when it fails to stack up against an impossible, unattainable ideal. I forgot I wasn’t Rumi, or some Enlightened Master. I forgot to be myself–or, more specifically, I forgot that who I am has something worth saying.

One day, I made something of a break-though: I realized my depressed mind wore blinders that blotted out my love of natural beauty, or any sort of beauty, and kept me cooped up inside. Even when I inevitably “went out” with friends or to attend to pressing matters, those blinders painted the world as drab and disregarded what my eyes saw, deeming it all uninteresting and unimpressive. The day I realized that, and shared it with my friend Chris, I was stunned and mesmerized that my brain, in its soup of neurochemicals and nervous impulses, could orchestrate such a sham.

But the sense of wonderment faded quickly. A new day dawned and the slow, creeping desperation followed me up out of bed.

Another day, I was watching an incredible winter storm through the kitchen window and caught myself loving the way the wind whipped the palm fronds and the water made a wall of force, beating against the window shutters outside. Some part of the sky was lit from the east, because everything was entirely visible. Not in bright and glorious color, but the power of nature reminded me of my childhood, and hurricanes, and… My drab little future. Nothing was stacking up the way it was supposed to. Thirty-years-old and I haven’t even gotten to the stage of the plan where I am financially stable.

After that–perhaps another day, things blur–I decided to acknowledge my life sucked according to the hopes and dreams of my past. But, more importantly, I had dreamed all those fantastic things while I was young and naive. I decided to give myself permission to have erred, overestimated myself. But I would not seek further judgment and recrimination. I would find some stillness within, some calm, and wait to see what revealed itself. I had nothing better to do! I could certainly wait a while.

It’s been a week of watching and waiting, while the moon filled in the sky, so perhaps there’s an inexplicable mirroring. I rediscovered some of the little pleasures that fuel me, and recognized that everything I’ve written about here before is true. I was out of sync with myself and with the universe–now slowly coming back into alignment. I knew the bubble burst, if only for a moment, when I did a mad dash of job applications into every possible available spot in the County. It was nothing different from what I’d done before–I’m in the hundreds of applications–but it felt right and purposeful.

The day after I got a call from a small charter school a few blocks away from where I live, and I interviewed for the position yesterday. Today I ran around to get all the paperwork signed and ready, and spent the afternoon at the school getting my bearings and meeting my new students and fellow faculty. Tomorrow, I start work.

~*~

I do not claim my depression is gone just because I got involved in some mindfulness. The anxiety aspect has certainly not left–the scars that caused this downward spiral are still there, throbbing. Without a medical diagnosis, I cannot tell for sure if I was just experiencing a third-of-life crisis or perhaps I am prone to some degree of mental illness (known in the family).

I wanted to write this post to mark the moment with a re-dedication to my intellectual/spiritual/philosophical searching, and perhaps share some inspiration.  Cleaving to calm and being patient with my inner struggles, I found the opportunity to gain perspective. Forgiving myself helped, but not nearly as much as recognizing I was questing after some impossible ideal.

I have not given up on my dreams. Everything I know and see (within and in time) leads me down the path I wish to travel. But it doesn’t have to be today, or tomorrow, or even a decade from now. In the meantime, there’s all this crazy life to live, and I hope I can be “awake” enough to experience it in full color.

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