I have so many things happening in my head that I often find it very hard to put them in order. So I was somewhat confused (and happily amazed) when I read this:
All coming into existence occurs in freedom, not by way of necessity.Kierkegaard
A “new life” will not come without my choice made in freedom. No one is forcing me, circumstances do not set the agenda. And I think the moment has come for a choice. Without knowing the future and without allowing the past to slow me down. I know all of that but feeling it is a completely different thing.
BTW: the liturgical rites we have (baptism, communion, especially monastic vows) are a free choice for a new life.
I know I have not written much in the last week or so. Just have not had the energy to think much. I even find reading hard at the moment. So have been trying to do other things – more creative stuff. (I have been researching frumenty – medieval porridge. I really want to try it!)
I have returned to the approach that helped me through my last depressive episode – two goals a day. So today I have done my two goals so I can relax for the rest of the day. I am not really depressed, more stressed by life. I realise that I live in an extremely stressful context at the moment. But knowing and feeling are two completely different things for me.
So I am still here. I still have two meetings today but they will be ok – I hope!
It is Holy Monday and I should have something “holy” to say. But I do not! Whether it is the weather, the season, or simply MDD, I am struggling to function. The total of my engagement in life is sitting and looking out the window. Last year’s Holy Week was a disaster for me with a “resurrection” on Easter Sunday. I remember spending Palm Sunday sitting on the beach crying uncontrollably. Yet I had a deep insight during the sermon on Easter Day about my life. I am not expecting an insight. And the situation is very different this year.
I have been thinking about “change”. There are many talking heads on the TV (which I rarely watch) that proclaim our need for change on this or that issue and how our government needs to facilitate that change. Many groups in the church proclaim a need for change or things will be dire. But real change only happens when the “I” changes. I cannot expect others to change to make things better. Worst of all, I cannot expect others to change to make my life better. I must change! And live as a witness to that change. Jesus brings real change. He brings change to my life and I must live that change.
So there is my not-so-holy insight for today. I will return to looking out the window!
Every experience is a paradox in that it means to be absolute, and yet is relative; in that it somehow always goes beyond itself and yet never escapes itself.T.S. Eliot
I could not sleep so I read The Cloud of Unknowing during the night. My mind wandered while I tried to go back to sleep and I thought about how “living in the now” and “experiencing God” are very similar.
I struggle with “living in the now”. I feel the pull of yesterday and I am extremely anxious about tomorrow. So much so that I struggle to stay in the moment for any length of time. I try!
I have always liked the quote above from T.S. Eliot. There is something paradoxical about all experiences. Like the current moment, it is absolute. There is nothing else! And when the moment has passed, the next is absolute when I am in it. Augustine speaks about time in Book 11 of The Confessions – only the present has any existence. And so only the present is absolute.
Anyway, strange night and strange day ahead. I cannot concentrate to read. All I can do it sit in the moment.
I have been reading The Handmaid’s Tale and watching the TV version. I am not sure if that is confusing me or making it a little easier.
This morning I thought of Immanuel Kant:
Kant’s formulation of humanity, the second section of the categorical imperative, states that as an end in itself, humans are required never to treat others merely as a means to an end, but always as ends in themselves. Kanthian ethics
Part of the objectification of people is using them for their usefulness. We rank people according to how they may serve society and we reward those who are more useful and punish those who are not useful. The Handmaids are simply a more extreme example of how we trend people as a means rather than an end.
I feel my uselessness. No skills for the greater good, sickness dragging down and costing society, without purpose or end. I am very forgettable.
No answer or insight! Simply that people are much more than their usefulness.
I heard some words yesterday that I have not heard applied to me before: Major Depressive Disorder. They were not directed to me – the doctor had to ring for permission for my medication and was asked for the diagnosis, “Major Depressive Disorder”.
Is it a little like giving a name to a monster? “But you look ok”.
To be honest, I feel like a fake. All of this is my choice and I am simply lazy. I am waiting for the moment that someone sees through it all and calls me out of it. I wondered if the doctor was going to do it yesterday.
So change in medication and see. That is my life now – change and wait and see.
Hope is a passion for the possible.Fear and Trembling
While I think the above is from Fear and Trembling, I cannot actually find the quote. So, any help is welcome!
I remember once reading that the cruellest thing one human being can do to another is removing hope. To never see anything changing, to being stuck. Not stuck in the present as a good thing but rather being stuck in a deep dark hole without the possibility of ever escaping. Tomorrow – or the next moment – is simply more of the same.
At the moment I know what that feels like. I am acting and praying. But I know what it feels like to have all hope for tomorrow removed. The cruelty of it. All by the free choice of another, simply to hurt. I have taken my anti-anxiety tablets, tried to sit still and read, but the feeling is still there. I feel like I am falling into myself – into the black hole that is within me. And I cannot see it changing.
I was thinking yesterday, while in church, I am waiting. I am waiting to get better, to find some balance in life. I am waiting for people to act and react, for life to progress beyond the stalemate of the moment. I am waiting for things to become clear in my life, where I am going and what it is God wants from me.
I am not a person blessed with patience. My tablets, which offered so much help and comfort, have become burdensome. Yes, I sometimes forget to take them and then remember at the most awkward moment. My doctor has suggested moving to a different type of medication but I am terrified of the transition. Counselling has been a great help – I may say, life-saving – but I feel like I am simply going round in circles. I feel a sense of not being able to move beyond the past. Maybe I am just a ghost that is ignored?
So I am really not sure where I am at the moment. Writing this blog without aim? Grand schemes that never amount to anything? (That Pink Floyd line, “Plans that either come to nought or half a page of scribbled lines”.) I think if the Olympics included sleeping as a sport, I could win something.
I do not enjoy this “holding pattern” way of living. I know that I should live in the present, the now, but at the moment that is just a little too hard. I know people are using my stress and pain to their advantage. I know betrayal. But knowing and living are two different things.
So, anyway, life goes on.
So I have been trying to eat vegan. Ok, I live in a house which is European and so I eat what is set before me which often includes lots of meat. But when I get to choose for myself, when I pick the food or the drink, I take the vegan or vegetarian option.
Nothing life-changing about that! I am no better or worse for making a choice of my food intact. But I have noticed that I think a lot more about the food I eat. I do not snack as much as I used to and I do not eat mindlessly to pass the time. And I think that is the spiritual side to it – I reflect before I eat rather than after. I think the “water and bread” diet of Medieval anchorites is a little too ascetic for me. And I do not live alone as yet so I still fit into the household.
I reflect and I notice the emotion before I eat. Yes, I am an emotional eater. I have a long list of comfort food – none of which is any good for me. Maybe this is all part of a change of life for me? More aware of who I am and what I do? I gave up alcohol more than a year ago. It reacts badly with my medicine. But, I admit, I sometimes still think about it with a hint of regret. I do not miss trying to hide the hangovers!
Yes, it is all about emotions for me. I would like to have a balance but I feel like it is just beyond reach at the moment. Yet naming it and facing it without the help of food (or alcohol) is part of maturing. And part of truly being me before God.
As long as I can still have tea!