[Disclaimer: This post contains information which may be negative or de-moralizing in nature and may not be suitable for sensitive souls. The author cannot be held responsible for any resulting depression or despair.] I haven’t posted recently. There are reasons – and I wish it was as simple as my kids being home for the summer.
Sometimes I have too many thoughts to get any of them down in any coherent form. Sometimes everything I'm thinking is bound and gagged in a tiny room of deep emotion and I'm not ready to let anybody in. Sometimes everything I think degenerates into pessimism and I don't want to spread the disease. Right now all of this is true.
Being very careful not to bitch and moan and to be as objective as possible, here's my problem:
I haven’t posted recently. There are reasons – and I wish it was as simple as my kids being home for the summer.
Everyone who accomplishes anything, whether menial, daily tasks or great, world-changing things does so because of an inner motivation; a passion; an inspiration. I am categorically unable to produce such a thing.
My mother finds it in helping people; my friend finds it in his work; some women find it in mothering; couples can find it in romantic love; someone else will find it in friendship. Some of these things I have and others, I don't. But none of them seems to be enough. I wake up in the morning and ask myself, "why should I get up out of bed?" and I can't find a compelling answer.
I'm stuck in Ecclesiastes mode:
" What does man gain from all his labor
at which he toils under the sun?
Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.
The wind blows to the south
and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
ever returning on its course.
All streams flow into the sea,
yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
there they return again.
All things are wearisome,
more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
nor the ear its fill of hearing.
What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun."
I'm forever trying to get at the thing behind everything we do: I get up in the morning so that I can fix and eat breakfast, so that I have enough energy to clean up after breakfast; and I wash up after breakfast so I have clean dishes for lunch, which I prepare and eat so that I have energy to clean up again. I launder my family's clothes so that we have clean ones to dirty again. I go to sleep so I can get up again.
"The sun rises and the sun sets,I'm spending my life- all of it- raising my children, so that they can grow into adults who spend their lives raising their children, who in turn, will spend their lives raising children of their own.
and hurries back to where it rises"
This cycles back as far as time, at least as concerns my forbears, since they all have had children- which, down the line, led to me.
"Generations come and generations go,I just can't seem to shake the feeling that we are all working to perpetuate life, but life itself consists of nothing but working to perpetuate life! When I think this way I start to get bitter, because life seems like a big, cosmic joke.
but the earth remains forever...
There is no remembrance of men of old,
and even those who are yet to come
will not be remembered
by those who follow"
"What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end."
God put eternity in our hearts, with no way to fathom it? In the face of meaninglessness, beauty and our sense of eternity become a burden too heavy to bear. It is too painful. It's mockery.
This underlying "inspiration" that I want - I've found various sops along the way, but they don't hold. I suppose I could say, with U2- "I still haven't found what I'm looking for".
Some people find it in a relationship with God. Augustine wrote: "Our hearts are restless 'til they find their rest in Thee." I think I have experienced this rest two or three times in my life. But I can't seem to stay there. Negativity sneaks up while I am sleeping and throws the blankets over my head; I can't see anything, I can't rest, I can't even breathe.
But I said I was going to try to be objective, didn't I? Okay, two thoughts:
First, there is a very good possibility that I need to be on anti-depressants. When I was taking Lexapro I did laundry just because it had to be done and didn't expect to find some grand meaning at the bottom of the pile. I saw my children as funny and delightful, instead of as part of a purposeless cycle of lives which are forgotten as soon as they end. And I altogether quit introducing myself (hand extended), "Hi, I'm Sisyphus".
(But if I need to chemically alter my brain in order to find purpose in anything, doesn't that just reek of denial? Kierkegaard, in A Sickness Unto Death, says the worst kind of despair is to not know that you are in despair. Do I want blissful ignorance?)
The second (and refreshingly opposite) thought I bring to bear on all of this is that, somewhere inside, I know this isn't the whole story. I know that there is beauty and meaning, because I have seen it before; and even if I can't now remember its shape, I can at least recall that I once saw it.
I’ve always believed the answer lies back with what Augustine said. But to rest in God, you have to know that He loves you. Sometimes I know that.
It's tender and raw and humbling and satisfying; it feels like a slap in the face or unexpectedly stubbing your toe; it feels like repentance, it feels like beauty; like hushed words between lovers; like a newborn baby; it feels like all the reason I ever need for anything.
In that place, my little life is swallowed up in a sea of purpose ("What God has done from beginning to end") rather than one of meaninglessness. The nastiest human being becomes someone worth my sacrifice; the most thankless work can be done with joy; sunlight turns dappled and golden instead of scorching; raindrops roll heavily from the tips of leaves, infusing them- and the earth- with meaning.
But I can't hold this always before me in any significant way.
A chief fault of mine is that I don't allow people to love me. When I was about eleven, my best friend and I took a "how-well-do-you-know-your-best-friend" test in a teen magazine (because she was into those sorts of things). When the test revealed that I knew everything about her and she knew only the very superficial things about me, she was so mad at me she wouldn't speak to me for a week. And I guess it was my fault. I don't generally offer information that isn't asked for. I think most people do.
Blogging is strange for me because I am constantly offering unsolicited information about myself. I don't like it. But it's a casualty of writing that I'm willing to face, because I love writing. And I suppose it's somewhat safe, because all of you out there in the completely intangible cyber-space can read it if you want to-or not, if you don't- and if it gets too uncomfortable you can always read it and pretend you didn't.
All of this rambling is to a point: I don't know how to be loved. I've spent my life blaming it on my parents or on God or on other people (for not noticing) but what it all comes down to is that I have isolated myself. I hacked a lonely road out of the thicket and set out traveling alone. I don't know how to repair this and I'm not even going to attempt an answer right now.