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Genesis of a Historical Novel

Sunday, January 29, 2006

depression and its antidotes

It was a disturbed night. I woke up several times, finally at about 3:30, and lay awake for the next three hours, feeling troubled in mind. I sank into a swamp of dark thoughts and emotions and lay there submerged.

I'm looking at my life and in many ways not liking what I see. I opened my journal in Word and made an entry, trying to tease apart the strands of discontent. I turned 47 on 24 January. What have I got to show for the accumulating decades of my life?

Just these magic beans, mainly.

I made a few more notes in my Thinking - Identity document, trying to summarize what my tentative conclusions are thus far. Why am I so obsessed with identity? For one thing, my life has been a (mainly unconscious) quest for identity--a search for the answer to the question, "Who am I?" or even: "What am I?" But in addition to that, and probably not coincidentally, the great myth of the Holy Grail is, according to Joseph Campbell, essentially the mythology of the individual, which is to say, the mythology of the modern person. The quest for identity is an effort to define or isolate this individual. Who or what is it that thirsts for salvation and feels its lack?

So: as I say, a few notes. Had a couple of soft-boiled eggs with toast, prepared by Kimmie, and sat silently afterward, buffeted by emotional crosswinds. "This is what depression must be like," I thought. Chilling.

They say exercise is good for depression, and so is nature. Kimmie said that she wanted to take a long walk, so I proposed walking the seawall in Stanley Park. That's where we went--about a ten-kilometer walk around the scenic perimeter of the park. It was moist and blustery, with cold wind blowing from the east. The snowline was low on the blue mountains; the water of Coal Harbour was choppy and milky-green against the pale sand and crushed shells of the bottom. Halfway around the seawall, when we were facing west in the lee of the park, the sky was a great featureless dome of pale gray, with the gray sea terminating at its bottom like the edge of the world--no island mountains in sight.

The drizzle increased to rain; I put up our big Knowledge Network umbrella, green-black, and we huddled under it as the wind blasted coldly, driving rain into us. There were still walkers, joggers, and cyclists moving along the seawall, their bare thighs red and chapped. We made it back to the car, grateful for the rest and shelter. And I did indeed feel revived by the exercise and the scenery.

Yes: Jack before the beanstalk, going to bed chastened. What must that night have been like for him?

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  • Sometimes depressions antidote can be rekindling old flames..reconnecting with the seductions of southern virginia.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at April 22, 2006 7:01 PM  

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