Depression

Depression manifests in me because I find my situation unbearable. Arguably it is. (That’s a bleak beginning! There is some hope towards the end.)

Judging a desire as “good” is meaningless. It can be used as a crutch: this desire is “good” therefore it is right for me; but the crutch is illusory, and it may only be “good” in my own mind. I thought, my friend should stop relying on that crutch, and then realised the lesson applied to me.

One does things out of habit, or because of rules, and there are times when I can’t find the motivation to clean my teeth- even though my mouth feels bad and would feel better if I cleaned them, even though I have worked out I clean my teeth for my own good, not because of rules or habit. Perhaps I can’t see anything will make my situation better, or my mouth hardly matters in the bigger picture. But there it is my own judgment of good, not something introjected or worked out rationally.

I have shut down my desire by judging it.

So I need to find what I desire. I thought of cycling, Sunday morning, and then I did not go. I thought, “I can do it later”. My desire is deceiving me: “later” never comes. It has to deceive me, to get round me, because I cannot accept it.

I cannot merely endure life.

Some goal or meaning might make me do things for survival, as a means to that end, but my only goal at the moment is freeing myself from internal conflicts, in the hope other goals will manifest later. We might adopt a goal which is worthwhile, but cannot demand God make us enjoy it, or take away our revulsion.

I consider my desire. It is there, and I do not know what it is. All I can say is my word of power:

Welcome.

I judge you from habit. I need your voice.

Carefully, I test possible words against the mute desire. Other ways of being? Loneliness??

Rajit was othered in a Quaker meeting. Someone said to him, “Your English is very good”. That’s patronising, only really a compliment to a teenager, and as I have no evidence that he was not born here, I assume he was, though I don’t know. The “compliment” makes him an outsider, rather than one of us. It is because of his skin colour. The person did not know they were doing anything wrong. That is not good enough.

I did not go cycling on Monday either. I sat outside, meditating, with a pen and paper to note ideas occurring to me.

Why would I want to go cycling? Conventional fun, the way I have introjected I am supposed to enjoy myself? Rational calculation of a need? I should exercise, after all, get my pulse up.

My introjected self hatred stops me coming into the light. My desire is possibly the most individual part of me, and I have denied it.

I must allow.
Permit.
Notice.

Oh God.

Sadness.

Immediately, out come the critical voices. They say, I have leapt to a conclusion too early. That is not really it.

I am barely conscious of huge inner conflict. I want: quick rational answers and a course of action. I want: not to judge myself so reflexively harshly. I want energy and motivation. I want need, desire and action to be one.

I went over to pick the creeper off the pine.

It was allowed to damage the tree badly, then someone stripped away most of the creeper, and it’s doing better but the creeper is coming up again.

My situation provokes long term fear. There is the slow, steady pressure and the repeated threat of disaster which so far each time I have avoided. I “do not acknowledge my feelings”? Fear is hard to bear. The situation is bad. I do what I can to better it.

Tuesday morning again I think of going cycling. The day is overcast so not too hot, there is little wind, no forecast rain, these are the best conditions I will have. I still want to continue reading. It is that I do not want to be in contemplative mode, to face the ongoing fear and other feelings. I think of a question: “What is the problem with the thing you don’t want to do?” Actually it’s the new problem, the older problems are still there to an extent.

I went cycling. My cadence is improving.

Added: Just as anxiety is fear experienced for too long, so this is not sadness but

sorrow.

It is a heavy weight. Sorrow can come from a single event that traumatises a person, or from a burden of many sadnesses unacknowledged. It is a burden. I told my friend I would “excavate” my depression, and she said I sounded so hard-working. I deserve better than this, and I will create better than this. Both anxiety and sorrow increase my propensity for withdrawal. I will welcome my inner light, so that I no longer need to withdraw.

The last of my William Frith paintings for now:

Will

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/86/1890_van_Gogh_Bloeiende_kastanjebomen_anagoria.JPG/768px-1890_van_Gogh_Bloeiende_kastanjebomen_anagoria.JPGHymn singing at the Quaker meeting round the piano- we do this until half an hour before meeting, as it is not what Quakers do, usually. We sang Fred Pratt Green:

God is here! As we his people
meet to offer praise and prayer
May we find in fuller measure
What it is in Christ we share
Here, as in the world around us
all our varied skills and arts
Wait the coming of his Spirit
into open minds and hearts.

We did not sing

Father hear the prayer we offer
Not for ease that prayer shall be
But for grace, that we may ever
live our lives courageously.

I hate that hymn. Just possibly, it is not arrogant and unthinking, in deep bourgeois security, but it feels that way to me. It has got to me in the past, and the suggestion that we sing it got to me this morning. I declaimed- something I wrote earlier-

Father hear the prayer I offer
Not for stress that prayer may be
But for ease, that we may ever
Live our lives contentedly

Best not smite the living waters
From the rocks along the way
Moses did, and Thou didst bar him
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/ed/Vincent_van_Gogh_-_Meisje_in_Wit.jpg/694px-Vincent_van_Gogh_-_Meisje_in_Wit.jpgFrom the Promised Land that day

Not that always by still waters
would we idly rest, perhaps
I like theatres, pubs, and dances
Good clean water comes from taps.

Oh, we’re not singing that one, then, said Kingsley, and we sang something else.

I sat in the quiet of the meeting room, after, and that was not enough for me. I had to go out in the beautiful sunshine, thinking of this: that great outburst, that huge Will, my unstoppable No-
and I have a great Yes, within, too
it seems to me that I suppress it, because it frightens me, because it can only meet an immovable object. So much fear of a particular encounter which I put off for a week, and then- I asked, and she said, OK then. No problem.

As meeting is about to end, someone’s mobile phone goes off. Quel Horreur! So Embarrassing! He sits, oblivious and lordly as his wife scrabbles round to turn it off-

and we have the Silence, which has the space to accept this, as well as my revulsion against a possibly innocuous hymn.

As one of us comes into meeting each week she passes the huge photo of Peter Bone MP in his office, looking like the host at a party delighted to see you. It gives her a violent pain, as his views are repellent- How can the town of the True Levellers have a Tory MP? She turned into our garden, and saw me hugging that tree with a four yard circumference, and it made her feel suddenly peaceful.

We have the space for it. And- I have the space for it, too- I learned to suppress that in me, I think, in early childhood, and I may find more creative ways of welcoming it and using it for my Will is a terribly heavy burden if I have to block it all the time.

I played a little of the Maple Leaf Rag, and Peter encouraged me to play all of it. They liked it.

Worms and trees

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b4/Lobster_Claw_on_Stac_Pollaidh.jpgTerry crushed the slug against the flagstone, repeatedly scraping his foot over it to ensure it was quite dead.

This was an act of kindness. The slug had been stood on already, and parts of its insides were oozing out. It could still have some life in it, and he did not like to think of it dying slowly. If he sees worms on the path, he will pick them up and put them in the nearest soil: this is more difficult than you might think, as they can be slippery. His wife disapproves. She walks on ahead, as if she is not with him. It might be suffering, as the sun affects its skin, and it might dry out. What do you think?

Well, a worm could be eaten, though a bird used to looking for worm sign in earth might not notice a worm on the street; the worm is not designed for snaking, but for burrowing, so might have difficulty getting back to earth, and it does not know where to go. I do not think it suffers particularly, and I do not think it matters much, but then it is little effort to help it back onto the mud, so I might, depending on mood.

Why? What does “sentience” mean?
-You’re not going to get all Socratic on me, are you?

He does not get all Socratic, but listens, so I can clarify my own view. Sentience requires nervous tissue. All living creatures respond to stimuli, but flowers open and turn towards the sun because of heat causing reactions in capillaries, evolved randomly to do that. No, a tree is not sentient, even if it has the potential to parent other, even better fitting trees.

It is not sentience which matters to me, I suppose, so much as respect, and my own view of myself. I do not harm or damage or waste things without purpose. So even a rock, or a mountain- I would not damage it pointlessly, though I would be happy to walk up it, which causes erosion- I would be happy to use it. Mmm. Thank you. I had not formulated my response before, and it is good to get the chance. So- what do you think? Would you rescue a worm from a paved road, and why?

Oddly enough I had been thinking in Meeting of my own unity with Creation, including worms moles and amœbae in the earth, grass in the wind and in cows’ stomachs, standard issue Mystic stuff. I did not mention this to Terry.

I had been posting daily, with 571 posts since August 2011, and I have just stopped. As I said, I had quite a bad cold, but having explored myself and my world with words in this way I suddenly stopped being moved to write: Outside the M25 is a recitation I wrote in Autumn 2011, and delivered a few times- once to tumultuous applause, once to head-scratching (what was that? Is she finished?) and I just posted it because I had nothing else written. I was thinking on posting about blogging- it has been really good, I feel such gratitude especially for comments because responses have made it worthwhile and brought it to life for me, etc, but I am no longer moved, at least not to post daily, then I thought I might as well post about that conversation, because I had enjoyed it. I probably will post again, but I have no idea when: possibly tomorrow.