My skies are a little dark this week.
It’s no big deal. I imagine almost everyone has times when the world just gets you a little bit down. It’s not about whether it happens, but when and how you handle it.
If it gets bad enough, you’re dealing with something that Winston Churchill called “the black dog,” that others call “the noonday demon.” Sometimes depression requires a doctor, a diagnosis, and treatment lest you end up in a state like Abraham Lincoln when he wrote to a friend and said, “I am the most miserable man living. “
That’s bad - and that’s tough to live with.
I’ve never been that far down, although I’ve seen people I cherish go through it, and it’s painful to watch. By comparison, what I’m feeling is just a small dark cloud in the corner of my eye that just doesn’t seem to go away.
The hardest part, for me, about being depressed is knowing that somewhere deep in the recesses of my mind I really don’t have much to complain about. Sure, we’re in the midst of something that looks a lot like a drought and I’m worried about all the farmers, including the guys who rent our land, but I know farmers in Haiti who suffered through a hurricane that washed all their crops away. The farmers here need to be worried about crop insurance premiums and land rent; the farmers in Haiti have to worry about their families starving to death before the next possible harvest.
I spent the holiday weekend enjoying my grandchildren and a variety of other young people who crossed my path, and I’ve particularly enjoyed wondering just what they will do with their lives when they grow up. On the other hand, in dozens of countries around the world the question is not “what will the kids do when they grow up,” but instead, “I wonder if the kids will live long enough to grow up?”
Perspective is a dangerous thing, because it can take away all the joy in whining. I live where I want to live and do what I want to do. I have three children with educations and jobs and four delightful grandchildren. I’ve lost most of my hair, but retained most of my health. I’m certainly not a member of any 1% club, but I do know I have a good life.
It’s not that I don’t have troubles -- real ones. After all, “Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward . . .” and nothing has changed in the past couple thousand years since those lines were written. It’s just that my troubles are by and large manageable, fixable, or endurable. In this world of pain I don’t really feel like I have the right to spend too much time wallowing in misery.
I know the dark cloud in the corner of my eye will shrink or go away, in time. Until it does, I just have to keep holding onto the knowledge of how small it really is.
Copyright 2011 Brent Olson