To a friend experiencing depression
I went for a walk to think about what you had just told me about your depression. As always, the generous Earth comforted with her wisdom.
Looking out over the land here in Colorado, my gaze contours over yellow grassy rises, drops down into dark gashes, then rises again to the next golden crest. Those dark depressions that cleave the land are places where water can rest, mingling with flung-far treasures of aspen leaf, river rock, and cottonwood. Each is a natural bunker from the winds of higher ground; a safe catchment to curl into when the surroundment is too rough to traverse. This is a place whose soil is much denser and richer than that of the higher land, a humus rich nursery for seedlings brought by the prairie breezes; and very often, this depression offers the land the shallow beginnings of a creek and a later generous river.
And so it is with us humans. Our depression is a murk of collected memories and emotions. We are lying low, pressed down, coiled in, and darkly fertile. Here in this place, details are defined by their darkness. We sense that what sustained us before on higher ground no longer suffices here in this low place. The familiar fades into inconsequence. Sleep seduces.
Time degrades into never.
I urge you: resist sleep. Stay Awake. Sense this place. Sense your self as an integral part of this place. What pokes? What’s slimy? What nauseates? Let the incessants of grief crawl over your skin until there is no more to be had. Let the white hot pains of abandonment sear your heart into char and mineral-rich ash. Feel the self-you- once-were dying into new form. Compost. All of it. Invite decay; and in so doing, allow renewal to begin rooting itself in your being. Dark, wormy-rich compost is the nutritious matrix for resurrecting into Next. And it takes time; sometimes months, even years for those things that are oaken, enameled, or varnished to compost. Energy is asking to be transmuted. Listen and let whatever needs going to go. Make room.
Root around. Ask: what wants to be alive here? ALIVE. What is pushing itself up into being in this pressed down place? Something fresh is growing. Something whose presence is apparent in its absence. There is an embryonic yes amidst the no’s. What wants to be is NOT what was: not that, and not that, and certainly, not that. Here, what was is fare for what’s coming to be; and as the ‘not that’s’ give way, room is made for the something new and never before, and it’s newness makes it hard to name, as yet.
Feel the press down and gather it’s coiled force into yourself. Sense What-Wants-To-Be-Alive-In-You rising. At first, it will feel tentative and fragile, but nonetheless upward. The enclosing sides of the depression will lose their height as you accumulate your own. Cresting the walls will happen. And though it may sound strange right now to you while you are lying low in the depression, I promise, you will soon stand with the depression behind you and gaze 360 degrees across the high ground, and most surprising of all, you will feel gratitude for the nearby depression. Yes, profound gratitude. And awe. For how could you recognize All This without having grown through All That? The high ground of your aliveness depends on a wintering over in your own depression.