Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11: This is not a reflection on the date.

It seems like bad form to write a depressing entry about depression and then disappear for weeks, but nevertheless I continue to do just that. To anyone who may have been concerned by this, I apologize. I obviously have not been doing much writing lately. Things are okay, not great. Not awful. Emotionally it is, of course, all a matter of perspective. Financially it is not good. I don't currently feel depressed and stressed, per se, but at the same time my motivation has been quite low, and I have had basically no sense of humor at all. And Ian, bless him, has put up with it like a champ.

On Ian: as I tend to do when in relationships, I have been changing my mind about "us" all the time. But I don't say so. And he doesn't read here, though he has been invited to. He doesn't want to snoop. But aside from that...we have been baking. Isn't that something? In the past I have been the one in the family that only cooks when forced, let alone baking. But put me in a relationship with someone who has never baked and suddenly I am the expert and we are making cookies. And he wants to. "We should do cupcakes next," he says. "Man, now I wish I were baking and watching the doctor [Doctor Who--we like Matt Smith] with you," he says. Where did this come from? And we do dishes together and make chicken parmesan for dinner together (not necessarily in that order, of course) and clean the house together because I think it needs cleaning and he is a good boyfriend.

My sister came over last night and we talked about depression and this book that our uncle gave her about "The Work," which she had been having mixed feelings about. It turns out that I read an article about it years ago and had been wondering about it ever since, so I'm excited about it. She wants us to kind of read it together, and talk about it as we go. I'm game. The basic premise is that all (says the author) of our suffering is caused by our desire to fight with reality, and that therefore our suffering can be alleviated by deciding to accept reality instead. I'd say that that would probably apply more to "first world" problems, and that it is a bit of an oversimplification. But still, I like it. Translated into terms that are somewhat more interesting/meaningful to me:

It is thought that our right brain takes in sensory information--everything we see, hear, smell, touch, taste--and then our left brain has the job of making sense of that information and fitting it into a framework of everything else that we have ever seen, heard, smelled, touched and tasted, and fitting it into our own personal timeline, and (here's the rub) deciding what it means. I would say that that last part is the blessing and the curse of mankind. That capacity for abstract thought. What does it mean? causes us no end of trouble. We often assign meaning where no meaning is due. We also tend to forget that our sensory input doesn't include, you know, everything, and so we often assign meaning that is simply wrong. What does it mean that Sean was rude to me this morning? It must mean that he doesn't like me, right? No. Really it means that Sean couldn't sleep last night and had a rough morning and thus wasn't really paying attention to interpersonal niceties when we ran into each other. You know the story. So anyway, I guess the idea behind "The Work" is that there is no good reason to hold on to meanings or thoughts that are making us miserable. And it is a system for analyzing your own thoughts and miseries and deciding what is worth keeping, and what isn't.

And now for something completely different:

It is nearly fall. In the evenings now, the air begins to smell of it. The world begins to feel like it. I am so happy that it is coming. My cousin and I are planning (I use the term loosely) a Harry Potter party, to be held at my house, probably around Halloween. Should it actually happen, I think it will be great. There will be movies and butterbeer and God knows what else. A lot of the "planning" thus far consists of pinning things to a board on pinterest. Don't hate.

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