Saturday, March 26, 2011

::gloomy gus

I have heard Conan O'Brien say, in many an interview, "I am prone to bouts of gloominess."

Well said, sir.
So am I.

Here are a few strategies I have found helpful to the maintenance of healthy perspective during these dreary seasons:


Think globally.
Visit here, here, or here, or countless other places, to remind yourself that you live on a wounded planet with broken people, where both large-scale catastrophes and redemption are coexisting. You are infinitely important, certainly. And so is everybody else.

Prepare a handwritten note, card, or letter.
Do you know someone else who's grappling with some sort of hardship? Chances are, you do.
You probably know several. Think of how much love and encouragement you can share by simply taking a few moments to write a note, letting them know you're thinking of them, that you care, and perhaps - if you're the praying kind - that you're praying for them.

Collect your feelings in words or visual art.
Write down all the feelings you're having. Don't judge or censor yourself. (Think of it as "verbal vomit," if you like.) If you're visually creative, draw a representation of your pain, or take photos that reflect your emotions. Just being able to express yourself, to pull your feelings out of your body in some way, will help to extract their toxicity.

Take a walk in a nearby cemetery.
Yes, I'm serious. As you pass grave after grave, consider the weight that each body must have carried; how rich every biography must be, how many triumphs and heartaches are collected in each one's soul. Someday, you will join them. Until you do? Celebrate your life.


I am certainly not saying that gloominess isn't sometimes necessary.
It is.
It serves a purpose, just as joy does.

I also understand that there is such a thing as clinical depression, because it has plagued me for more than a decade. Some gloom is so severe that it's impervious to even the most clever strategies.

But if you should find yourself trapped in some garden-variety gloom, wishing to escape a pervasive onslaught of it, those are a few suggestions.

You're welcome. {insert winkyface here}

Thursday, March 24, 2011

::barren beauty

I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.

You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.

Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.

~Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

Monday, March 21, 2011


I may have had a "date" several weeks ago.

And it may have been miserable.

A few things he may have said during the encounter:

"No offense, but your profile picture kinda freaked me out."

-- No offense to you, sir, but your actual face kinda freaks me out.

"That coupon you got for a free drink? Give it to me. I mean, I did pay. "

-- I'm aware that Panera is considered higher-end fast food. However, you're being very George-Costanza-esque about this. Not cool.

"You dated a black guy? Do you know that not even black women like dating black guys? Don't do that. "

-- I have no words, people. No words.

"I can't think of any Protestants or Catholics that I actually have any respect for. That's the problem with being Orthodox."

-- Right, Orthodox. I'm sure that's the problem.


Something he may have said in a message, after the hideous ordeal was over:

"I find you very attractive. But in the long run, I would not be comfortable with your weight. I'd be happy to work on it with you. Let me know."

Okay...I am the first to admit that I've struggled with my weight for most of my life, and it's still an uphill battle.
But for you, a virtual stranger, to say such a thing, is outrageously uncalled for.
If I had to venture a guess, I'd say that roughly 99.9% of American women are sensitive about their weight, whether they're thick or thin or somewhere in between.

And even if I did want to "work on my weight" with someone, it would NOT be you.
Just sayin'.

And in the long run, I would not be comfortable with your...well, your whole repugnant personality, really.


I haven't heard from him at all.
I'm not upset about that.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

::forty days

Lent is frightening.

Not only because I am compelled to "give something up," but also because I am called to a higher level of discipline.

I am called to make a commitment to sacrifice things I do not feel ready to sacrifice; things to which I feel very attached, things that richly contribute to my daily comfort and satisfaction.

I am the first to admit that I'm a procrastinator.
I cannot speak for all who struggle with this, but for me, it's because I'm afraid to try.
And I'm afraid to try because I'm afraid to fail.

I cannot identify all the particulars of why or how this happened, but somehow I adopted the dangerous paradigm of performance-based acceptance.
That is, who I am is not sufficient.
I must be constantly doing, and doing, and doing, in order to gain and maintain approval.
If I fail at what I do, I become substantially less appealing, acceptable, lovable.

Last week at a neighborhood tavern, drinking Corona with lime and sharing a theological chat with a dear friend, I had what Oprah would call "an A-ha! moment."
My friend said, "The grace of God is a gift. It's not about what you do. You don't have to do anything."

Certainly I had heard this before, but somehow it had never slithered its way into the core of my spirit, spreading its tranquil truth all over my ever-present anxieties.

Perhaps my Lenten disciplines ought to involve the further exploration of these issues.
Graphically confronting oneself is to give up the falsehoods that comprise our own carefully constructed facades.


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