Let It Grow Organic Gardens

And I resumed the struggle. -Vladimir

Friday, March 10, 2006

Long Ago, I Hung Up My Beads

Depression is associated with brain disorganization and nerve-cell atrophy. Depression appears to be progressive - the longer the episode, the greater the anatomical disorder....Depression has been linked with harm to the heart, to endoctrine glands, to bones.... It is poor company. Depression destroys families. It ruins careers. It ages patients prematurely.
-Peter D. Kramer
writing in The New York Times
April 17, 2005

They're on a sconse on the living room wall, hanging idly and unused for many years now. They've gathered a bit of dust, but still smell of sandalwood. The little red tassel on the end is still intact, though a bit faded.
I left it all behind me, oh so long ago, because it felt like time to do something else. No longer would I sit on a cold floor at 4 in the morning chanting in a strange language. No longer would I shave my head. No longer would I twist my legs into a firm and stable base and contemplate my inhalations. God is a tough boss. You never get a raise and the overtime is grueling. Forget about a vacation.
Rarely if ever do I get the urge to pick up the beads. You won't find me calming thumbing through the circle, persueing eternity, nor will you see them around my neck. They're hung on the wall, on the sconse.
Working for God, though, is a bit like working for the CIA. You never really get away, and are liable to be sent on a secret mission at any time.
The phone's been ringing a lot, lately. Various friends at their wit's end, calling to - well, I don't know, I guess just calling to call. I can't help. I have no advice nor words of wisdom. That's the other reason I hung up my beads. I just wasn't very good at it. I can listen, though. That's about it, but it's something I can do. It's probably enough, and my failure to see this has probably always been an obstacle to being really helpful.
That's the other thing about working for God: the employee manual is really hard to understand. It was written in a foreign langauge that nobody even speaks any more.
The original title of this post was going to be Pain, because I've witnessed a lot of that lately. I find myself surrounded by people whose brains don't work right, or, don't work in the way they want them to. (I could explore that issue some more, but that would require putting on the beads.) These are difficult and complicated times, and there's no such thing as mercy. You're stuck with the hand you're dealt, and you're in it til the bitter end. A few fold early, but that's even worse.
I can tell a tale or two about working with inadaquate tools. Try fixing a truck or plowing an acre or building a greenhouse with tools that don't work right, and you end up going in circles and never getting the job done. You get things so screwed up in the initial stages that you can never get things right, if you can even figure out how you screwed up in the first place. So if your tool is your brain and the work to get done is your life, you're even worse off than I guy covered in grease and staring at a cold and mute engine at midnight. And the big difference is that there's no parts store, no upgrade, and no gift of a new one, not from anybody.
But I'm getting stuck in useless metaphors, and that's not doing any of us any good. I mean to say that depression is a serious and terible thing, and I am currently watching several lives laid to waste by it. It's not something that I nor anybody else understand, and there's no cure for it. Any treatment that makes good sense usually makes things worse, or, at the very least, is completely useless. Those suffering feel useless and those treating are helpless. And then it gets worse.
The thing that gets me is that it's permanent. There's no do-overs. I don't completely understand the vascular system of a plant, and there's very few deseases that I can identify. But I know that I can plow everything up and start all over again. Threre's no doing that with a brain or a nervous system. You're stuck with what you've got forever, and you end up sitting around wondering how it all works and how to fix it. And there's no solution.
All this has little to do with me, and for that I'm grateful, at least. My biggest problem is a broken bone, and they know how to fix that. I'm just the one who who sits by feeling useless as I listens to others' descriptions of pain. I don't fight it. I don't persue it, not anymore, but I don't fight it. You play the hand you're dealt. If your fields grow wheat, then grow wheat. If you're fields are better suited to rice, then grow rice. If your climate is good for avocados, then plant a few. There's quite a few things these fields are good for, and I didn't choose any of them. I just look after what's here. I painted a WELCOME sign and nailed it to the door when I got here. It's still there. The gutter has a leak, so one side of it is rotten and moldy, but it's still there, and I mean it. I hung up my beads a long time ago, but I haven't exactly walked away from all that. I can't, but, really, I don't want to. I'll dust off the beads, from time to time, for all the good it does, and walk the path once more.


  • At March 12, 2006 1:23 PM, Blogger spiral said…

    I could almost place myself among those who have required you to take out the beads, except that we haven't talked lately. We will soon, I'm sure, and if we don't, that's okay, too. I can feel those beads between my fingers, though.


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