Functional Depression

Functional Depression

Now let me get started by saying that I know that depression has varying degrees of intensity, and thank the heavens I have never had to deal with the full-blown, physically impairing type that can thankfully, nowadays, be tackled with the 21st century medications.

What I am going to talk about is the type of depression that a large chunk of humanity deals with every day, but is devalued as a non-topic. What is the absolute goal of society? Or rather, what is the goal we are told to pursue? Aside from wonderful things like life (it’s generally a good thing to be alive) and liberty (we can debate exactly how free any of us actually is), the pursuit of happiness is the forefront of, at least, western society. I say this because more often than not, even in western society, we don’t give a shit about happiness, we just want to survive and not end up in the streets destitute and abandoned by our increasingly inhuman representatives. So why bring it up? I think comedians are the philosophers of our times, and Carlos Valencia best put it when he said “If you’re not depressed, you’re not paying attention”. And ever since I heard that, I just felt so much better about this consistent and nagging “ugh” I feel every single day.

I never got that whole “ignorance is bliss” bullshit. It’s dumb, knowing is far better than not knowing. Yeah, more often than not, when you know something you didn’t your immediate reaction is “Aaah, I wish I didn’t know that”, but overall, knowing is what makes us grow, it’s one of the civilizing forces in society. Not knowing is far worse, and you can call ignorance to be bliss, it’s just a dumb and lazy way to excuse not wanting to find out more or to not care about anything outside of our own wee little bubble.

So I take time to know things, I care about what is going on in my country, I care about what is going on in my community, the country next door, countries around the world, humanity as a whole. I care about the old lady crossing the street, and whether or not I’m going to see her getting run over (something I don’t want to happen to the old lady, or to be scarred for life for witnessing) I generally care about a whole lot of things, especially in my personal circle. I care deeply and fundamentally about my partner, whether or not she’s OK, if she laughs, if she’s in pain, I care deeply about our making it to the end of the month with some money left over in the bank that we can save for our future, I care deeply about our life, so I care about knowing if I am doing well in my job, if my job has a future, if my country has a future, and I need to know when to pack our bags and bounce if things get bad in this country.

So how can you not be depressed when all sign show that work, people, communities, countries as a whole are not faring too well? How can you not be depressed when you see hundreds of thousands of people fleeing from the drudges of war or witnessing the horrors of hunger, conflict, poverty, persecution, apathy, inhumanity around the world? How the hell can I not be depressed when I have to pay taxes out of my ass to finance a state that is inefficient and does not guarantee my safety in case of a fire, how can I not be depressed when I have to work my ass off to make ends meet every month, and know that there are a whole lot of people who are waaaay worse off? Worse, knowing that there are a whole lot of people who are waaaay better off, not doing a 100th of what we have to do to survive?

So yeah, I am depressed, functionally so, but a depression nonetheless. But guess what, so are you, and so are millions of people around the world, cause at the end of the day, that cow ain’t gonna milk itself, that field ain’t gonna till itself, that spreadsheet ain’t gonna fill itself, and that bill ain’t gonna pay itself. We have to deal with life, and that’s hard. We have to witness what’s going on around us, and that’s harder. But we have choices every day that make us functioning human beings. We can laugh, we can experience momentary glimpses of joy, of happiness sitting on a couch after eating dinner with a loved one. We can experience the bliss of fleeting relaxation for a couple of hours before heading off to bed and repeating the grind all over again.

The world is depressing, but there is true beauty and joy to be had from it. It’s all momentary, and you need to know where to find it. It’s what makes most of us function. Keep your bliss all ye who choose ignorance. I am happy knowing.

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Rampaging Hypocrisy

Rampaging Hypocrisy

It’s not easy not loosing your cool in this world. It’s so much work in fact they should consider it a full-time profession with overtime up the wazoo. We go through each day bearing witness to incredible, eye-popping, jaw-dropping acts of selfish, self-centered, inhumanity, that brings us close to reacting in kind to what we see. The lack of empathy, comprehension, compassion, understanding, or emotion of any kind, turns urban life into a particularly grotesque soiree of rampaging hypocrites, who one moment denounce the social injustices of the week on social media, to right afterwards flipping the finger in traffic or cutting a line and treating a Starbucks barista with disdain and self-appointed aggrandizement.

But what to most of us do? I think there are a resisting bunch (I have no way of quantifying just how many we are) that gently shake our heads at these sad people, who after all are so involved in their little universe, they don’t even take the opportunity in sharing in the awe-inspiring experience that is being human. Noticing the myriad kindnesses that happen at every moment is far greater than suffering with the petty evils, and it becomes an addiction trying to look for the good in people while contrasting it with the dirt that’s out there. It’s not a matter of being optimistic or pessimistic, just like with any faith or ideology, that’s just adhering to a dogma that constrains our beliefs and experiences. It’s not about the glass being half empty or half full, it’s about realizing that there is a glass, and that there is water in it, that in life we experience thirst and we have ways to quench it. In any case, what I am trying to say is that not suffering with how apparently ugly the world can be is an active choice, it takes work and training, and some people do it really well. It’s about recognizing that we’re all subjected to the same grind, that life is not easy for most, and we do not have to complicate another’s already complex existence. Letting others be is not a matter of not caring. I choose to not mess with other people’s lives in respect with their common humanity, my acknowledgement of being and letting be.

It’s not apathy or disconnectedness, it’s about realizing that maybe, just maybe, the person that is next to me has been dealt a hand far worse than mine, so the last thing they need is my disapproval of how loud they’re talking on the phone while riding the metro. Yes, it’s obnoxious as hell, but it’s also their sad attempt at having their existence recognized by someone, anyone. Just put on your headphones, and blast some classical music. I dare you to sit in the metro while listening to some Mozart or Vivaldi, and just observe the people around, coming and going, each an infinite universe of possibilities and probabilities, each with a story as complex as our own. I dare you to play this little game and not have a smile on your face by the time you get to work. See? Isn’t that much better? Let them rampage along with their silly hypocrisy. You and I know what we are, if anything, we won’t get ulcers from all that bile and hate! I don’t know how many we are, but I am sure it’s what keeps the horsemen of the apocalypse at bay.

Can’t Help But Love

Can’t Help But Love

Words have always held a sort of mystical power over me. I had never found it particularly easy to express emotions with my own set of vocal chords, something I am only recently starting to learn to do. I have always however found a deep comfort in the power that transmitting my passions through the clickity clack of a keyboard brought, of making my soul’s desires appear on a screen through a deep valley of ones and zeros necessary to make thoughts turn to print. The strength one feels in seeing imagination take shape, twisting and forming syllables into words, into tangible structures, into something that can live far beyond a lifetime, is still something that inspires awe deep inside me. I can spend hours thinking about a single word, its meaning, its history, its very soul and the perfect form it represents, an absolute unattainable by physical hands, concepts which represent our ideal shared realities, and not just my own individual conceptualization.

And then I turn my mind to those who live on in posterity, those few who among the millions of souls who have walked this earth, mastered the lexicon and made their voices echo through hallowed halls, and more often than not, it was an absolute love for something that made them endure. Through their understanding of the sheer wonder that is the soul, they live eternally in our collective memory, speaking words which have been spoken for centuries, adding rhythm and cadence with every passing utterance, bringing our species and our universe a greater sense of fulfillment. It is through love, and not fear, that so many great feats were achieved throughout time immemorial; love is one of the most extraordinary things the universe ever chanced into being. A volatile yet essential force, it drives forth the very might behind survival and endurance, the will to be, the will to life, the will to power and knowledge, will which itself draws from such a simple, yet infinite well, a primordial urge, one which guides and compels us to do more, to be more, to seek more: love.

This little four letter word that means so much to so many across all walks of life, keeps the ebb and flow of the universe interesting. And I don’t just see love within our species; I find that this little force, far from being quantifiable, can be found in life itself. Different species of fauna often show a kinship with each other, even with us, and all flora demonstrate their love for themselves and for the rest of life for being the primary driving source of energy for us to consume and clean air for us to breathe. Doing what needs to be done day in and day out to ensure not only their own survival, but of entire ecosystems. I don’t think that’s just programming; there’s a will there that suggests a love of life and existence itself, and by consequence, everything else therein included.

At times when darkness seems to creep in all around us, where fear starts to rear its ugly head and compel us to move away from the light, to enact acts of hatred and violence, of injustice and corruption, to visit upon our own kind, upon other species, to act in complete antithesis to what sits within our most primary programming, it is in these times that we cannot just hope that things will get better. Hope leads us across a pit of fiery coals; faith makes us leap over it. Now more than ever we need faith, not in religion, not in dogma, not in politics or ideology, we need faith in humanity, we need faith in LIFE. We need to realize that we are not yet all that we can be, that there is much more to achieve, that the path ahead is not build atop the mistakes we have made a thousand times before, but by the lessons of a turbulent existence as humanity learns to crawl, then walk and now run. We can achieve a level of kinship, of understanding, of feeling and tolerance and justice, of want for love and to give love, to adore and be kind to one another, of shining a bright torch unto every corner of existence and declaring our divine right to be, to persevere, to persist. We will not be worthy of remembrance if we succumb to ideals which are momentary at best, empty at worst. Greed, jealousy, wrath, violence, intolerance, hate, apathy, indifference… There is so much we have yet to learn but what brings me an undying hope, a deep faith in humanity, in life itself, is how far we have come. More and more we are waking up to the reality that this need not be so, that we need not go march in some direction just because someone with a heart full of hate and avarice wills us to. We are less and less subject to the fears they try to sell us, we are less and less willing to swallow the lies they feed us. We have followed blindly for centuries but we are waking up. And as bit by bit the awakening of our kind ripples across the continents, over borders and barriers and imagined differences between you and me, as one by one we open our eyes, we get closer to our imperative: to become a species worthy of being universal, to break through the boundaries of our cradle and endure across space and time.

All darkness can fade within a single momentary flash of pure light, and I’ll be damned if we are not capable of achieving beautiful wonders which just breathe love out of every pore. The musical masterpieces, the works of art, the literary wonders, and the simple acts of kindness I see every single day walking down the street. So much happens that I can only catch glimpses here and there. And I don’t just see little moments of darkness, no, not anymore. Not since I was compelled by someone, in a moment of unconditional love, to stop and take a deeper look, to look again and ignore the shadows in favor of the light. And so I did. Now I can only try to not lose myself within all the little details I see, the momentary glimpses I catch at the happiness and joy which seems to cover this world yet we are too preoccupied with petty things to take note. I now live in a state of constant breathlessness, a state where I can’t help but love. I can’t help but smile at the laughter of children playing; I can’t help but grin at young and old couples passing by tenderly holding hands; I can’t help but love the sound of nature mingling with our bustling concrete jungles; I can’t help but admire the words and drawings concocted by masters long-dead yet forever immortal; I can’t help but adore the music that beams out of everyone’s mouths.

Now I wake up every morning ready for what the day will bring, realizing that every day I will be wooed by humanity’s admirable tenacity, that I will be seduced by nature’s never ending splendor, that I will lose myself in the infinite beauty of a single Rose, that I will wake up and just stand in complete adoration of the universe itself and realize that I just can’t help but fall in love with life with every breath I take.

Connected

Connected

image

The combination of this image and Jane Goodall’s wisdom always brings a shiver up my spine. We are so blinded by silly things that we don’t appreciate the wonders of existence, the great and unique bond we share with every living organism on this planet, yet for some reason, some of us feel alone. Look around and take a moment to rethink. Feel the life around you. You’ll notice that you can’t help but smile…

Wondering and Wandering

Lying on the shores of the Rio Mondego, hearing the cadence of Johnny Cash’s voice echoing behind me, a gentle breeze blowing through my thinning hair, I have looked across the waters for what seems like years, entranced by the Sun’s shimmering light, gliding on the gentle surf.

I steal a glimpse at those around me, people from far and wide, their combined laughter and histories the stuff that could make a thousand tales.

Yet, I,

Always I,

Sitting, thinking, wondering,

Commiserating,

Am always dreaming,

Hoping,

Wanting for whatever roams on that distant plutonian shore.

Look,

See,

Hear,

Feel,

Breathe,

Taste,

Shudder,

Shiver,

Sweat,

Think,

Think,

Think,

Always thinking,

Always wondering,

What could be,

What will be,

What is,

What is not.

Rowers dish and dash past me, simply row, row, rowing their boat, acting as one, as none, for a fleeting moment not individuals, but a solitary vision of a graceful glide through the river’s great divide.

A dog comes running past my legs, breaking one trance and immediately giving rise to another, marveling at the joyful look on this simple creature’s face while centuries of wonderers seeking more knowledge stand at my back, atop the great hilly steep of Coimbra’s academic light.

The warmth of the Sun awakens me, reminds me of why I am here, a constant traveler seeking his roots, a wayward wanderer searching for meaning. As the azure shore across from me so ebbs and flows, so do I come and go. Always seeking, always wondering, always wanting, never reaching. This is me, this is now, this is here, this is now, this is I.