Like a play, this blog comes to you in three acts. I’m not sure why, but that’s where my mind and fingers took me today. Not that I meant to, but when I finished writing I realized I’d lit on three stages of my life so far: youth, the depressed years, and this middle age I’m living. Ever the English major, I dissect all writing, even my own simple little blogs.
It’s mornings like this one, when I’m tugging my snow boots on over three pairs of wool socks, when I remember the bread bags. My mother used to save bread bags. She’d turn them inside out, shake loose the crumbs, and stuff them in a kitchen drawer. Then, on days like this, she’d hand a pair of them to me and my brother and make us put them on over our socks to help our boots slip on easier. As a mom, I totally understand the logic. As a kid, though, is there anything more embarrassing than wearing Wonder Bread bags to school?
Once in awhile someone writes something with such clarity I could cry, laying out in plain English the thoughts so jumbled in my head that I have no words to organize them.
Chris Rose is that mirror. He is a columnist for The Times-Picayune of New Orleans. Over the years, particularly those spent in the depths of depression, I’ve read what seems like millions of words people have written to describe depression and anxiety. As a writer, I’ve tried to describe it myself to little avail.
Rose lived and wrote Hurricane Katrina, month after month after month, which drove him to a darkness he always thought was nonsense: “For all of my adult life, when I gave it thought – which wasn’t very often – I regarded the concepts of depression and anxiety as pretty much a load of hooey.
I never accorded any credibility to the idea that such conditions were medical in nature. Nothing scientific about it. You get sick, get fired, fall in love, get laid, buy a new pair of shoes, join a gym, get religion, seasons change – whatever. You go with the flow, dust yourself off, get back in the game. I thought anti-depressants were for desperate housewives and fragile poets.”
It’s a fabulous piece, a truly raw and wrenching column. Here’s the link: http://www.dfw.com/mld/dfw/news/opinion/16045901.htm.
And here’s a little more of what he wrote, the stuff that really got my attention: “My case might be more extreme than some because I immersed myself fully in the horror and became a full-time chronicler of sorrowful tales. I live it every day, and there is no such thing as leaving it behind at the office when a whole city takes the dive.
Then again, my case is less extreme than the first responders, the doctors and nurses and EMTs, and certainly anyone who got trapped in the Dome or the Convention Center — or worse, in the water, in the attic, on the roof, up a tree.
I’ve got nothing on them. How the hell do they sleep at night…
Early this summer, with the darkness clinging to me like my own personal humidity, my stories in the newspaper moved from gray to brown to black.”
Good stuff, my friends.
And finally, I decided it was time for a new photo. The old one, while kinda cute, was me 40 pounds ago. So here’s the new one, debuted on the left. Think of it what you will, but it’s me with all my age and laugh lines. It’s me at 43. Not young. Not old. Just ordinary with an ordinary face. And I like it like that.
So on that note, I share with you parts of a Maya Angelou poem, one she wrote on aging. What I look like now does not make me who I am now and what I will look like tomorrow won’t reveal what’s in my heart. The photo of the physical me is what it is. Who I am is left to action.
“I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights…
I’ve learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life. I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance…
I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back…
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”