Tag Archives: sadness

A futile war worth fighting

I have had enough.  Too much time bowed under the pressures of life.  Too much time with face in hands, sobbing; too much grief and tragedy.

A life gripped by fear and insecurity and regret.  A life that stripped away the confidence that i once carried myself with. Determination to better myself swallowed by self-doubt.   A half-life, more than a real one. An existence with the desire for meaningful human contact, coupled with  difficulty not loathing most of humanity.  A life bitter at the unfairness of it all, while feeling like a hypocritical monster because I have it better than so many. A life of dreams flown by, and out of reach.

It sounds all so familiar, like the dark thoughts that consumed my daughters soul, and eventually her life; a crippling dissatisfaction of what this universe has had to offer.  Unable to count the diamonds of blessings among the piles of shit.  The difference is I don’t have mental illness as an excuse.

So I come to the end of the rope, grasping feebly.  And I choose to let go.

But I let go to something different from my end.  I let go of my expectation of what life was supposed to be.  I release my assumption that there should be fairness or balance or peace for us all.

No peace. War.

I choose to let go and fight.  Fight a futile battle, against the universe.  Against the cold and uncaring randomness, that cycles on and on, mindless of the struggles and pains that follow in its wake.

I will fight.  To scrape every ounce of life from the universe.  To extract every moment of care, love and happiness that I can either give, or receive.

The universe doesn’t care, my war against it is as meaningless as a speck of dust landing on an elephant. Irrelevant, meaningless and of no notice.

But I will fight.  I will do my all to let my cherished friends and family know that I care.  I will make life as meaningful as I can for me and my beloved.  I will dance, and write, and drink, and laugh madly, sometimes when I’d rather crumple in tears.

I will live, and in doing so defy the grind of reality.

And in the end, it will win.  One day, the universe will crush me in to dust like all those before me, and will go on and on as I slip further and further in to a place where I am not even remembered.  I will lose battles; friendships valued may be lost.  Those that once cared about me may stop.  Disappointments will continue to wash over me like an endless tide.

I will stand at the grave of someone who I love again.

And I will die.

But I will go to me end with my arms raised in victory, not bowed in failure.  That I fought, that I loved. And that I will be remembered, at least until those that remember me are also taken by ceaseless time.

As futile as a war as it is, I will not stop.  A life any other way is not worth living.

I chose to live.


Melancholia

For when words aren’t enough.

 

We’ll never stop missing you.


Hey there, humanity.

Hey there, little brat.  Up the stairs you come yapping on your cell phone.  It’s a quiet zone up here.  We come up here to get away from people like you.  You ignore the signs, and keep on talking.  Quite the nuisance, disturbing the rest of us.  But you don’t care.  What the hell is wrong with you?

Hey there rich girl.  With your high heels, dark sunglasses and oversized Coach bag.  I saw you push by that other women to get up the stairs.  Kind of rude, don’t you think?  But you don’t care.  Tons of seats available, but you have to get up there to get first choice.  What the hell is wrong with you?

Hey there, Mr. Stink.  I’m glad you sat at the other end of the train car.  Just walking by filled the air with the smell of sweat and cheap cologne and frustration.  But you don’t care. I bet I’ll smell that for the rest of the ride home, so thanks for that.  What the hell is wrong with you?

Hey there, Mr. Elbows.  Tons of empty seats, but you choose the one next to me.  Hard to sit comfortably with your fat wing slamming in to my ribs every time you move.  Can’t you see I’m working here?  I know you can see that before you sit down.  But you don’t care. What the hell is wrong with you?

Hey there incompetent mother.  Your kids been screaming since we left the station.  I mean really, why did you bring her on the train at rush hour?  Her ear shattering wails make it seem like you’re pinching her, but you just sit there with a defeated look on your face.  You should be more considerate of others!  But you don’t care.  What the hell is wrong with you?

Hey there Mr. Drunk.  You can’t fool us; we know you just puked in the bathroom. We heard it. And now you are staggering around trying to find where you were sitting.  You walked past it twice.  Looks like you’re going to lose your cellphone too. It’s on the seat you can’t find.  You probably have some sob story about how you lost your job or how your wife left you or something.  Like you’re the only one who has suffered. And we have to put up with your melancholy alcoholism. But you don’t care.  What the hell is wrong with you?

Hey there Mr. Crutches.  We’re trying to get home here.  Waiting for you made us late.  If you can’t move a little faster than that, you shouldn’t be getting on the train at all. So inconsiderate.  Probably on crutches because you did something stupid.  And even if you didn’t, it’s not as if it’s our fault, why should we have to wait?  But you don’t care. What the hell is wrong with you?

Hey there you douchebag blogger.  Tapping away at your laptop.  Sunglasses still on and a frown on your face.  Sitting in judgment of your fellow commuters, because they don’t fit your ideal.  Because they are talking to their mother trying to figure out how to get home.   Because they have insecurities they hide behind fancy clothes and baubles.  Because they’ve just worked 12 hours and have more work to do when they get home. But you don’t care.  Because they are just so exhausted that walking even a few more steps to another seat is just too much.  Because colic has ruined their life. Because Life is painful, and they don’t have the skills to cope.  Because disease and injury chose them, it was not chosen by them. But you don’t care.

All these people who just want to get home, just like you.  But you don’t care.

What the hell is wrong with you?


Deep Blue Funk

Five months. Five months since I stopped writing.  Why did I do that?  Take the most therapeutic thing in my life, and put it on the shelf?

There is only one real answer. The Deep Blue Funk.  We all have a monster in our lives.  Some are big, some are small.  Some of us are able to ignore it, others of us cannot.  It’s a monster of apathy and disinterest.  A vampire, it sucks away your drive.  I call mine the Deep Blue Funk.  I call him this because he is a product of my deepest emotions, and for a long time, they have been blue. 

I’ve allowed the grief that life has offered me to feed the Funk.  So I spent my days to pass in silence.

I’ve trudged to work, done my job, gone home, and sat on the couch.  I’ve watched TV instead of reading, played video games instead of writing, and spaced out instead of thinking.  I’ve put my goals aside, not because I don’t desire them, but because for the last half of a year, I haven’t really wanted anything at all.  During this time Deep Blue Funk has gotten enormous, glutting itself on my disinclination to motion.

I’ve killed Deep Blue before.  But he keeps coming back.  And now he’s on the couch with me.  He always knows when I plan on murdering him.  He’s at his most persuasive when I’m plotting his demise.

So I try again.  I have started working on my novel again.  Shortly I’ll hit Publish Post.  And hopefully it will kill Deep Blue. Maybe for good this time.

I really hate that guy.


The Happiness Paradox

In the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, “Desiderata”

>smile

 I’ve given great thought to the matter of happiness.    Not in how to be happy, because as you’ll find in reading this, that’s a concept I find as fleeting as the taste of your favorite meal once it has been finished.  Nor, whether or not people deserve to be happy. We in Western civilization assume that it is a God-given and unalienable right to be happy.

But I challenge that assumption because I’m not certain that we have the foggiest notion of what happiness is.  In technical terms, it’s the release of chemicals in your brain that gives a pleasure response to pleasing stimulus.  So you could rightly say you are feeling happiness when eating chocolate (If chocolate is something that you enjoy)  The sound of a favorite piece of music.  Warmth when you’ve felt cold, the charms of a physical relationship with your lover.

But if we boil it down to merely a physical response, we invalidate it.  We would never say that someone addicted to mind altering drugs is “happy” when they are high, since it is likely profound unhappiness from which they escape by altering their mind with psychotropics or hallucinogenics.

No, it is none of these things that I ponder.  I find myself mulling over if any of us are truly happy based on the prominence that we assign it in our life.  Because it seems to me that happiness is momentary pause from life that can be dull, grinding, miserable, and sometimes outright horrifying.  It doesn’t seem to me that the default position for the human mind is happiness.  Which is why we consistently have to seek it.

There are some few that seem to be able to be happy in any given situation, or at least present that outwardly; it seems that nothing fazes them from happy-go-lucky.  But that is not the norm.  If you took pictures of someone candidly, while they were not engaged in pleasing situations, they would for all intents and purposes appear entirely blank.

http://www.turismo.intoscana.it/allthingstuscany/tuscanyarts/author/tuscanyarts/

Image – Thomas Ruff – Tuscany arts

Devoid of feeling.  Lacking the depth of emotion that we employ to communicate happiness, sadness, anger, anguish or love.  Little more than a breathing mannequin.  And perhaps this is the way it has to be, perhaps we are unable to maintain emotional output at all times, it would burn us out.

If you had of asked my daughter if she was happy, she would have responded that clearly she was not.  The depression sapped that away from her.  But still she found moments where she laughed, smiled, or was touched by the love of family and friends.  Happiness was not the sum of the things that she was given that made her smile.  Nor was depression for her the destruction of all things that could do that.  But for her, feeling happy fed her depression.  In an odd paradox, happiness and pleasure were catalysts to a deepening darkness. A place in herself where she felt no worthiness of happiness, in a world where she perceived the unhappiness of others.  A false smile pasted on her face, because the real ones hurt her deeply.

If we are frank with ourselves, we can realize that if we remove the items from our lives that make us happy, we won’t be happy.  It’s why we are forever chasing the things that we think will make us happy.  It fades easily back to our state of numb indifference.  Even the winner of the lottery is happiest at the moment of finding out they won, it’s all downhill from there.

This is not meant to be nothing more than a pessimistic rant.  Because can I say that I am happy?  Yes.  I have a beautiful and loving wife.  I have health, good employment.  I have a few dear friends that actually care about me, and I would walk over hot coals for them to see them happy.  I have good memories of my daughter, I have humour and laughter.  But at the same time, I can say am I happy? No.  I’ve lost one of two most important people in my life.  I struggle with the disease that afflicts my wife.  So many things have not turned out as we envisioned.  I have days that are humorless and drab, and even with the best of friends, you can only see them so much, only be so much a part of their happiness.

So perhaps we should stop wondering if people are happy or not.  Perhaps we should stop confusing dashes of joy with happiness, and realize that happiness isn’t a trait in and of itself.  It’s a sum of the things in our life, and we must strive for it.  Happiness is the moments we can glean from life, and those we can give to others as possible.  Happiness and sadness can co-exist, intertwined.

I leave you with a video, because the words of the poem I quoted makes everything I’ve written in this post meaningless noise by comparison.  they both hurt me and compel me at the same time. It is coupled with one of my favorite pieces of melancholy music, and it fits it perfectly.

Strive to be happy.  And more importantly, strive to help others be.


I am Pi

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A few days ago, my wife and I took in the Life of Pi.  I went in to watching the movie with some reservations, as I am first and foremost a reader, so I am usually disappointed with the movie adaptations.  I am also a notorious movie snob, to the detriment of my enjoyment, and to the patience of friends and family who must endure my overly critical commentary.  I was heavily mistaken in this case however, as Life of Pi was one of the best films that I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching.  Although this post is not a movie review, I have to give praise to Yann Martel for writing a truly engaging and spellbinding book, and applaud Ang Lee for a beautiful interpretation of it for the big screen.  I also offer that if you have not watched it, this may contain minor spoilers.

Perhaps one of the reasons that I enjoyed the movie so much beyond the fact that I found the novel to be thought-provoking, is that I identify strongly with the character.  I feel no shame in the fact that I had to hold back tears in the movie theater.  So many powerful moments stunningly depicted, all striking home.  Now that doesn’t mean that I’ve ever been in a shipwreck, unless you count the time that I sank a canoe at the cottage.  No, I haven’t been adrift in the Pacific ocean in a life boat with nothing for company but a sea-sick tiger.  But the Life of Pi was a story about symbolism, wasn’t it?  In that, I can honestly say that I am Piscine Molitor Patel.

I could talk about how he was teased by students, how he questioned everything his parents told him, how he looked for more out of life than what was placed in front of him.  But those are matters mostly of my deep past, and when the past calls, it usually doesn’t have anything new to say. What I identify with is his journey.

Because I’ve spent time adrift at sea.  I’ve been surrounded with emptiness, and struggled to come to grips with it.

I’ve hung suspended underwater, watching my ship sink, and wondered whether or not breathing in the water would be preferable to fighting my way to the life boat.

shipwreck

But continue on I did.  Continue on I must.  For as Pi discovered, despite losing what he thought was his all, life remained worth fighting for.  Against the sea, against the storm, and against the tiger.  I had my own tiger to fight.  It stalked me relentlessly.  It consumed every moment of my time and energy for over a year and a half, and only got more hungry and ferocious as time passed.  I speak of course, of my daughter’s mental illness.  I know it would seem to be more appropriate to call that her tiger, and not mine.  But to her, it was the hyena.  Craven, brutish, tearing at her.  For me, it was the tiger.  It was the insurmountable creature that forced me to fight back, from a tiny raft.  Surrounded by sharks and uncertainty, storms and fear.   I tried the ferocious approach, I tried to fight the Hyena off, and make the tiger cower.

I tried to reason with it, blow the whistle softly or loudly depending on the situation,  tried even to make the tigers presence a normal part of life adrift.  This is where the story differs.  Pi fought the tiger and won.  I fought it and lost.  And I watched my ship sink after my time in the lifeboat, instead of the other way around.  But oh, the things that Pi endured, that feel so much like my story.

Terrible loss.  Immobilizing fear.  Moments of hope dashed by deeper moments of hopelessness as the boat drifted further and further.  Feelings of despair, tossed by the waves, which showed no care or mercy.  I too, have thrown my hands up and screamed to the universe “you’ve taken everything, what more do you want!”

And now I find myself at the end of my time in the lifeboat.  Just like Pi, trying to recover from a harrowing journey, and not knowing exactly how to do it.  Convalescing in a hospital, with nothing but vivid memories of shipwreck and loss.  And as strange as it seems, a sense of loss of the tiger as well.  Because you see, when my daughter left us, the tiger left us too.  And as I also lie exhausted on the beach,  I realize that the tiger, for all the pain it caused, for the terror it inspired, also left me without looking back. Without ceremony or farewell.

The thing that was the sole focus of my life, my fears for so long, was gone in to the forest.  And I was spent.  I am sure that Pi missed his family terribly, as I miss my child.  But in a strange way, we both miss the tiger.  The creature that gave us purpose to fight.

I am Pi.


Sad Superman

Image

I have been called a hero.  I’ve been called strong, amazing, heroic.  And I can say without the slightest of hesitation, I do not feel any of these things.  It’s mystifying to me that anyone could ever identify me as a hero.

And why, you might ask, have I been identified as heroic?  What feat of superhuman rescue did I perform?

I loved my daughter. 

It doesn’t get more complex than that. 

Perhaps I should give you some context.  Because calling someone a hero for doing what they are supposed to do as a parent, seems just a little odd.  My Father, after the death of my daughter, tearfully praised me for all I had done for her in the months leading up to her succumbing to the depression that ate away at her soul.  That I had taken the time off of work, had stayed with her, walked with her, tried to help and heal her.  He said it was heroic.

My friend called me amazing, and heroic, because after all our efforts to save her failed, I stood up and delivered her eulogy.  I planned her funeral, I walked behind her casket, and I didn’t fall down.

Yet another friend called me heroic for being able to walk in to her room, and begin the process of sorting through her things.  To seek people and places to donate my child’s belongings, just as I know she would want them to be used.

And even another called me Superman, for doing all these things, and for not falling apart completely.

To me, these are things that I can’t accept.  Trying to help Amber through her depression, trying to save her life, that was nothing more than what I SHOULD have done as her father.  Delivering her eulogy?  She deserved nothing less than her father being willing to stand up and tell her story.  And the rest?  That’s just the sad aftermath, that all who lose a loved one must ultimately undertake.

But let’s pretend for a second, doing all of those things make me heroic.  Let’s perpetuate that illusion for a second.

The only thing it means, is that I’m a failed hero.  I’m the sad Superman, who despite rushing in to rescue, watches as his efforts fall apart.  Hand desperately outstretched, trying to catch the falling victim, and missing. 

The Superman who can’t fly, so he has to run to try to keep up with what he can’t catch.  No super hearing or vision, no inhuman strength.  Just a bent man in a crumpled cape placed on his shoulders by other people.  Face in his hands, living with the regret of not being the superhero that he needed to be to get the job done.

Do I blame myself that I couldn’t save her?  Do I cast fault at my own feet that my daughter chose to end her own life?  No.  The depression that consumed my beautiful child was something that even the real superman couldn’t defeat.  It was the kryptonite of mental illness, and all efforts to change it met with failure.

But oh, how I wanted to be Superman.  I wanted to stop the speeding bullets of her self-hatred.  I wanted to stand in front of them and have them deflect off of me like nothing more than crumpled up pieces of paper.  I wanted to have super vision so that I could see when she was harming herself, and I could swoop in to stop it.

I wanted to be able to travel “Faster than a locomotive” like Superman. Faster still, than the train that brought me home on that fateful day, so that I could have been there in time to stop it.

I could do none of those things. And although I don’t accept the fault, I don’t shoulder the blame for it, I live with the regret, that the enemy was stronger than me, the super-villian was too much, too powerful to be defeated.

I can’t wear the cape.  I don’t deserve it, and capes are useless when you are unable to fly.