Friday, February 22, 2008

change/no change

This morning, while loafing in bed, both my favorite and least favorite activity depending on how "stuck" I feel, an advertisement came on. This is of course to be expected. Some skinny older guy, who I admit looks like some of my older friends was jogging along what looked like the undeveloped part of Mulhulland Drive (forgive my spelling--it has been a while). The gist of the thing was that being old was not the kiss of death of something and that even at the horrible old age of 58 you could take your life back into your hands, one step at a time. After a while apparently you would then look skinny like him and run around in baggy shorts at five in the morning. That was fine, until it struck me like a thunderbolt.... 58!!!!!, wait a minute, I'm 58 and still waiting to get a little older before I get really serious about consistently taking the calcium and having that bone density scan. (Let us not even discuss the treadmill looming in the other room.)

What does this mean? Heck if I know.... but I was thinking how we change, and the world changes and something inside of us refuses to change. When these are in proper balance, life is rich, challenging, meaningful and, well, life. When they are not, which often occurs when we leave these things unexamined, we run the risk of slowly dying while still walking around.

A number of years ago, I had an unusual opportunity to go to Beijing, China with one of my bestest friends. For five years we had run a business together and when the business closed, our time together shrank radically. This chance to spend two weeks with her was wonderful and since I had a real love affair with all things Asian through my romantic western vision, I was ready to go. The trip itself was so many things that I could write a book if anyone was ever interested (which they are not). However, on coming home, I became ill with a mystery illness. I was extremely tired most of the time and given all manner of medications. In August of 2002 I wrote this:

I have been struggling with coming to terms with the awful feeling that life flows by me, so quickly and so un-noticed.

I find myself left with nothing more than the repeating experience of waking at 4 am with yet another day gone by. It is the true existential anxiety toward death. I am relieved to find that it is in part a side effect of one of my medications.

The events of the summer forced this chemical unconsciousness upon me--for the sake of my blood pressure and the sanity of those with whom I live. Strange that their living more comfortably should be bought by my living less fully.

It is odd how day can feel so much more full, long, meaningful, joyful, fearless, even though my back aches, the same problems exist, my still the same unknown length or brevity...but having been awake to it, I don't feel that dread. This medication treated my anxiety and oddly enough caused severe dread for me....

As a therapist, this is a window into depression that is well worth thinking about."

Enough for today. Comments are welcome.

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