This isn’t an essay about how depressed we are. We aren’t depressed. A little more anxious than your average person, sure, but I like to think that’s a side effect of optimism.
I think the problem is that I care a lot about everything. I care a lot about my dog. I care a lot about my landlord’s dog and the dog I passed in my car the other day. I care that someone on Twitter seems to be having a really bad life because she just says negative things all the time and I want to talk to her about what that’s going to cost her. I cry about every sad commercial and trashy human interest story and when someone wins the Super Bowl. I once cried because I read a Wikipedia entry about a fictional character whose dad died right as they were starting to mend their father/son relationship.
You just can’t attach yourself to such transient things. They will rip free as they pass and Ouch! Isn’t that the definition of crazy? Not adapting and changing something when things suck? So how do you go about the business of getting a thicker skin? What is the proper method for lowering your level of general life empathy?
Sometimes it helps to have a hand to hold in the darkness. Like, if you are in a relationship and you can come home at night and have a lil bunker from the storms going on outside. But too often relationships are the source of stress themselves. So it’s a nonsexual, nonromantic thing. We just exist together at night.
A Ritual to Read to Each Other
by William Stafford
If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the
and following the wrong god home we may
miss our star.
For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of
storming out to play through the broken dike.
And as elephants parade holding each
but if one wanders the circus won’t find the
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.
And so I appeal to a voice, to something
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the
For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to
the signals we give—yes or no, or maybe—
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.