As part of my ongoing attempts to shift my mood and emotional state, I have been slowly doing a bit of rearranging at home. I’m trying to reduce clutter, brighten things up a bit, clean out stuff I no longer want/need, change things around to give a sense of newness.
It feels really good … to me, anyway. My cats are much less enthused about this process.
“Depression is something that makes you lose your sight.” ~Michael Schenker
Dark night. Black cloud. Thick fog. Darkness. Shadowlands. Blackness. Black sun.
All of these common ways of describing depressing describe conditions in which we can’t see very well. Our sight is dimmed in darkness, fog, and shadows. Familiar objects take on distorted appearances. Color is washed out. We can’t see where we’re going, and we can’t even see our current surroundings with any clarity. Everything appears gray and misshapen.
Things have been unusually busy this week at work as a number of deadlines are all hitting at roughly the same time. In the midst of the busyness over the last couple of weeks, I’ve found myself letting my daily gratitude journaling slip away. I’m just so tired by the time I fall into bed each night that it feels like a burden instead of a gift to take time for that one extra task.
Despite the lapse in actively writing down the things that I’m grateful each day, I’ve found that I’ve internalized the practice of gratitude enough that I continue to look for and notice things that I’m grateful for throughout the day.
One of the (many) gifts I took away from my recent class in Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) was a renewed appreciation for the role that story plays in a life of faith. The Old Testament begins with long sections of story-telling. These stories are re-told and re-interpreted throughout the rest of the Old Testament books and into the New Testament. In fact, we still engage with those stories today both in traditional religious settings and in literature.
While there are ways that my religious upbringing has left some deep scars, one of the things that it did give me was a strong knowledge of these stories. Some of the stories are comforting, many are disturbing in one way or another, but all reflect the messiness of real life as it was then and as it still is today.
I’ve learned the hard way that when it comes to people and relations appearances can be deceiving, words can be used to trick and to hide as much to expose, feelings can’t always be trusted, and that the “truth” in any given situation usually depends on who you ask. In short, there is seldom an absolute truth to any interaction between human beings, and even the truth that can be reliably nailed down in some way is likely to be interpreted differently by each participant and each viewer.
For many years, this made me hesitant to trust my own perceptions of situations I found myself in. I distrusted my feelings, questioned my motives, doubted my observations. Most of all, I ignored my intuition. At the slightest hint of contradiction to my own opinions, I accepted the “truth” of those around me above my own knowing.
I attended a First Friday event tonight (my first!) with a friend. We had the opportunity to view works by a wide range of artists working in many art forms, styles, and media. We would stop and discuss our impressions and reactions to pieces as we moved slowly through the galleries.
In many cases, our impressions were quite similar. As we would explore our reactions and try to suss out the details in the piece of art that provoked those reactions, we shared many understandings of the visual cues. For example, dark colors prompted more somber or heavier emotional reactions. Bright colors prompted more upbeat and intense emotions. Muted colors prompted a sense of mystery or peace or wistfulness, depending on the hues and the subject.
“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” ~C.S. Lewis
I spent some time with a newer friend today and had the pleasure of discovering several things that we share in common, from interests, to authors we enjoy, to patterns of reacting, to writing styles. It reminded me of just how powerful it is to discover a point of commonality with another person, a discovery that becomes more powerful the more rare the point of commonality is.
These moments of connection remind us that we are not alone. They bring reassurance that all of our quirks fall within the natural variety that makes up the human race, and that we are not broken or defective for being as we are. They bring the pleasure of finding someone to share our interests, hobbies, and activities with who will value them as we do. These moments whisper the reassurance that we belong to those corners of our souls that fear that we are forever on the outside.