Friends, let me say up front, I have not wrestled with severe depression. I have been on the periphery of many who have, and many who continue to struggle.
I’ve recognized that much of the discussion around depression amounts to this: let’s talk about it. Let’s beckon it from the shadows. Let us set the table for our tidal wave of sadness and grey souls. Psychological and biological culprits are convicted – depression is personalized – but rarely is depression examined from the realm of the mythological.
I ask you to consider: depression is the individual adrift in the absence of the World. Depression is the unbidden response when the only story you know ends when you end.
In this way, depression is the soul in free-fall; a collapse of the imagination.
To be clear, I’m not making the callous assertion that a person is responsible for “causing” their depression. Far from it – it is always our most sensitive souls who see through the facade of the dominant culture. They recognize the dead-end miles away, yet feel isolated in their debilitating clarity. Few humans can bear the weight of our times without staggering to their knees. They stare into the maw of The Nothing and wonder: why not jump?
Instead, what if depression was not seen as contained to an individual, and therefore, not something to be “cured?” Rather, depression is the weather vane of our times – bearing ragged testimony that things aren’t “all right.” To those individuals in the storm: I say, thank you. I say, I can’t pretend to promise I could do the same, if I was standing on that bow with you.
But let me offer this: there is a bigger story out there. A grand symphony which is no doubt hard to hear behind the wind and the white noise; a dancing vibrant caravan of joy and grief that threatens to break those hearts that might have long felt deadened and dark.
This revelation should not be left to personal enlightenment. In a living culture, this knowing would be woven throughout the beauty-making of our days. From the growing and harvesting of plants, to the songs sung over our babies, to the tears shed over the setting sun each night. We would feel the grand symphony in our bones.
But for those of us in the dominant culture, this is no longer true. We are left to fend for ourselves, our boats threatening to capsize with each report of species gone extinct, each harsh glance on the street, each lost opportunity to be truly, deeply, human beings.
It can be this way again.
Be warned: there is no certainty in the grand symphony either – only the mystery that this has ever come to pass at all. And I shall continue to bend my love and labour to the only intact truth I know: that life wanted Something and not Nothing.
You shall find your kinship here.
Posted to Facebook, Aug 14. Read the discussion here.
With acknowledgements to my teacher Stephen Jenkinson.