from facebook, February 15, 2017
After decades of struggle with depression, I have spent the past year coming into a sense of personal peace. I felt for many years that I was standing on a tiny, shrinking island of safety in a boiling tar pit of nothingness. I was unconsciously holding onto my privileged, unrealistic delusions from childhood, and the cognitive dissonance was destroying me. I was trying to escape from everything and everyone, thinking that if I could just stop the stressors, I could be safe from the Nothing. One beautiful day last spring I took a long lunch and went to the botanical garden, thinking “Escape! I am free! Just me and nature. I can have an hour of peace!” But the peace did not come. I realized then that the Nothing was inside me, not outside, and that the only thing to do was hold my breath and step into the tar pit.
Once I stepped off my island I began to understand that it was never an island at all, but a small, cramped, dirty dome of denial, and the tar pit was really an endless sunlit landscape. Stepping into the fear, facing all that reality, was an excruciating process, but it allowed me to see all the heartbreakingly beautiful things as well, all that had been obscured by the Nothing. Now there is so much sunlight and dazzling complexity, and I can rejoice in all the wonders I have yet to learn, rather than fearing what knowledge may do to me.
The root of this peace is just sitting with the awareness that NOTHING is guaranteed, that feeling entitled or taking things for granted are foolish and dangerous delusions, and that the ability to truly feel gratitude is the sweetest grace we can hope for. Once the gratitude takes up residence in your heart instead of the fear, you have way less time for petty bitterness, dissatisfaction, and blame games, because you see that being on the planet at all is a blessing, and that working to help others is the rent we should all be happy to pay for living here.
The quote below by Tim Wise is the truest thing I have read today. I see now that this is why so many black folks I know were not shrieking, useless, privileged panic monkeys like I was when Trump won the election. My friends were not pleased, but they were also definitely not surprised. They see.
“It is long past the time when white men are going to have to learn something that folks of color have always known: nothing is certain and nothing can be taken for granted; life is about change and disruption. And the minute you get comfortable and sleep on the way the world works, is the minute you go under. The privilege of not having to KNOW that — and a long damned time ago — is what has so many white folks shook right now.”