Every Moment Matters

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Last week I wrote about the beauty of melancholy…this week, the world is trying to come to grips with the unbearably sad manifestation of depression in Robin Williams’ suicide.
 
It may not seem so in the busy flow of daily life, but every moment we are making choices. Even if we’re simply staring into space lost in our own thoughts, we are not doing something else.
 
It isn’t always easy to see the forest for the trees, even for those who have never experienced any gradation of this illness. And yet, every moment we have a choice. What helps you to remember that in your darkest moments?
 
I know a thing or two about clinical depression. I have struggled with it myself, and have close friends who do as well. I sprang from a family history fraught with it, including a grandfather who received electro-shock treatments back in the days when it was not nearly as nuanced as it is now
 
And yet I am far from an expert. There are many shades of blue, some much darker and more menacing, more all-encompassing, than others. Either way, the forest can feel awfully dense and dark on any given day.

We live in incredible times. There are huge advancements in science and technology; at the same time, there are huge regressions in human compassion and connection. Yet touchstone moments like these tend to shine a high beam on our shared humanity.

I’m not trying to bum you out…
 
…I am, however clumsily, trying to make a point about self-care. It is not negotiable. It is not simply a little nicety you add on at the end of a busy day, in the form of a bubble bath or a glass of wine. Those things might relax you, but they barely scratch the surface of a deeper calling.
 
Self-care is an act of faith. It is a choice that needs to be made day by day. It is different things for different people with one common thread — that it connect you to your breath, to your soul, to the part of you that exists beyond this three dimensional world.
 
You needn’t believe in a particular religion to tap into the sacred. Yet it is a necessary ingredient for basic human nourishment, balance, and support. It is a muscle that needs to be strengthened, because our world and culture offer so many things to weaken it.
 
Every moment you are making a decision — do I believe this heavy, mean thought or replace it with a better one? Do I stay stuck on this couch or get up and do the dishes, just to get moving? Do I reach for the belt (or the pills or the gun), or reach for the doorknob and take one step out of this room? {I don’t in any way mean to belittle Mr. Williams’ clearly consuming pain; and I imagine many of us have at least once thought that it would be easier to simply check out.}
 
There are two sides to every story, every rough moment, every sense of “it will never get better.” The world exists in pairs of seeming opposites — my prayer is that you always find a middle way.

The Beauty of Melancholy

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Why talk about melancholy at the height of the summer? Isn’t this a time for endless barbecues, vacation plans and bicycle rides, for the joys of fresh peaches and cherries?
 
It is all of the above and more. What I love about melancholy is that it is equated with being pensive, as opposed to depressed. 
 
We feel a bit blue because we are allowing ourselves to feel everything — the joy of a gorgeous summer day mixed with sadness at the loss of a parent or the pain of a dear friend. Both of my parents died in summertime, and it has given this season a bittersweet blend of uplift mixed with wistfulness. And I know I’m not the only one who experiences this.
 
But What About Positive Thinking and the Law of Attraction?
 
Ah yes…that old “what you focus on is what you create!” conundrum! How does that fit in? Aren’t we supposed to always be putting our attention on what we are grateful for, what we want to draw into our lives, what is light and bright and inspired by a higher energy?
 
There’s a difference between being positive and being real.
 
Yes, you can be sad and content at the same time. When you don’t push away honest feelings of sadness, anger or fear, they don’t pull you out of flow, they are part of it. Being with is not the same as wallowing in.
  • Being with allows space for those feelings to not get stuck, but move through and out.
  • Being with keeps us honest and gives us valuable information about what is working in our lives and what is not.
  • Being with is the internal equivalent of a sudden summer storm. Emotions can blow through, leaving us calm, clear and cool in their wake.
Peace of mind comes not from latching desperately on to the high points of the season. It comes from letting all of the seasons of your life breathe fully in every moment, rising and falling like the swells in the ocean. 
 
The way out is always through. Trust in your melancholy moments; relish the wisdom inherent in letting joy marry sorrow. The wheel always keeps turning; remember that and you’ll never get stuck in one place.