Luckily, the rabbit lived, and prospered….

Skyclad before the pale, he sits to write his way into the day……and in an unprecedented move, he has brought his brain with him!…..

“In a real dark night of the soul it is always three o’clock in the morning.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald

Have the claws of depression ever set themselves in your flesh, slicing their way into your conscious mind to fill it with diffuse anxiety and deep despair? Have you sat, alone in a dark room, and thought of all that you have lost? Does the sunshine make you angry for being so cheerful? When depression rears its ugly head and takes over the soul, the world loses all its color and warmth; everything you see is grey and shadowed, and somehow menacing. Being alone becomes a penance, a sentence for violations of natural law, and sleep is the only surcease from the crushing weight that weighs down the mind, and soul. All the goodness in the world seems far away, and unattainable by any effort we can make. Even hope becomes uncomfortable, because of the fear it will turn out to be false. Thoughts and feelings feel out of control, and the simplest tasks can become a challenge to your reduced level of functioning. Believe me when I say, being depressed is no picnic, and you still get the ants……

Having been a psychiatric technician for so long, I know the effects of depression very well, from both sides of the therapeutic relationship, having treated many depressed individuals, and having suffered its claws myself due to PTSD. It is a difficult condition to treat, from a therapist’s viewpoint, as it is difficult to help someone find the light when they want to sit in the dark, and close their eyes against the light. And from the other side, the negative filter through which a depressed individual views the world denies any possibility of change. For  reasons which are still unclear, a person who becomes depressed is actually more comfortable in that state than they are when they are not influenced by its debilitating symptoms. And from having experienced it myself, I can tell you without hesitation that it is insidiously powerful, and incredibly hard to set aside in order to get back to a more stable mental state, one in which the world again becomes beautiful, the spirit once again takes flight, and life regains its attraction once more…….

The sense of death is most in apprehension;
And the poor beetle, that we tread upon,
In corporal sufferance finds a pang as great
As when a giant dies.
— William Shakespeare (1564-1616), Measure for Measure — Act iii, Sc. 1

I usually steer clear of using Shakespeare, as his work has been over-used, and IMHO is over-rated anyway. He did write a lot of beautiful passages, and should be considered as a master of the sonnet as well as the play. But I like this one, both for the creative beauty of his phrasing and structure, and for the idea behind it, which I see as a clear observation of the interconnectedness of all life-forms. We’re born, we live, and we die, thus completing the cycle of existence as per the natural laws of this universe (or at least as far as we know those laws…..). And every other creature on this planet goes through the same cycle of birth, life, death, birth, life, death, etc…, until one can only conclude that we must be alike in other ways as well, and are thereby connected in some fashion, both to the universe, and to each other. This connection puts us all on the same level, at least in the eyes of the universe; no form of life escapes death. We humans, though intelligent, curious, and supremely adaptive to new environments, have no advantage over the tiniest creature on Earth, for we all will face our mortality in the end.

     Thus our sense of entitlement, of being the top of the food chain, is not justified, for we have no more power over death than the smallest, weakest life form in our world. Species discrimination based on intelligence is foolish; we must come to terms with our own mortality and accept our position in the universe, not above other forms of life, but shoulder to shoulder. We may as well, because we’re going to die anyway; it’s best to try to approach it with some dignity based on fact, rather than unjustified delusion…..

“If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.” — Thumper (1942)

Bill Russell, the former professional basketball player, is considered by many fans to be the best defensive player ever to play the game. He played the game with studied intensity, and with complete dignity, approaching the contests with the same attitude he approached life. He was a proponent of the above attitude, one we all learned as a child, watching Bambi and Thumper inflict their terminal cuteness on unsuspecting children in a theater near you. And, as far as it goes, it is a good piece of advice, well worth considering, and useful in teaching manners. But, as with any childish conclusion, it doesn’t go quite far enough. But Bill said this, “One should play the game as a gentleman, always. But, there are times when an elbow to the chops is the only way to make a point.” (My apologies to Bill, as the quote is a paraphrase, the original being unavailable to check for accuracy; the point it makes is intact)

Yes, being nice to each other is the best way to approach living with others, and not speaking never got anyone into trouble over what they said.  But the rules for behavior amongst ourselves need to be very flexible, and subject to revision moment by moment. There are too many facets to the human mind to ever consider limiting one’s choices of how to react to any particular situation. This is reinforced by the nature of reality, i.e. constant unpredictable changes are normal, so once again, limiting how we choose to act is an inappropriate response, and doomed to failure. As a human, we need to embrace that part of us that is flexible, and creative, in order to have the best chance of dealing with reality while still staying sane……

Speaking of sanity, keeping mine is going to require some work today, so I’ll be off now to pursue other activities, reluctantly. I will leave you with the following thoughts…..

All men are poets at heart
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
All poets are mad
— Robert Burton

Y’all take care out there…..

Sometimes I sits and thinks,
and sometimes
I just sits.



Subliminal toast….

It seems that my computer has developed some idiosyncrasies. I usually don’t turn it off very much, as I run a program that crunches data for a couple of cloud computing projects, one from UC Berkeley called SETI@home, and one from the American Physical Society called Einstein@home. But I decided to give the computer a break a couple nights here recently, and now it seems to want to find little things to do that annoy me. This morning my word-processing, database, and project program, Open Office Suite, wouldn’t open from the taskbar button; I had to work around it by using an already created document to open a new doc. Then Firefox, my internet browser, wanted to update itself for the sixth time. Just goes to show that our inanimate objects tend to take on human characteristics the more we use them. As I spend probably more than 10 hours a day working on this little machine, it has no doubt taken on some of my curmudgeonly traits. Ah well, as long as there is a work-around…..c’est la vie!
Today I have gathered a group of Pearls from some of history’s finest minds. Some were included simply for the beauty of the writing, others for the power of the ideas being presented. All are worth reading and contemplating, and should provide everyone with a good feeling or three with which to fortify their attitude for the day. If not, well, I’d have to say you really aren’t trying hard enough…..enjoy!

“Nature, whose sweet rains fall of just and unjust alike, will have clefts in the rocks where I may hide, and secret valleys in whose silence I may weep undetected. She will hang the night with stars so that I may walk abroad in the darkness without stumbling, and send the wind over my footprints so that none may track me to my hurt: she will cleanse me in great waters, and with bitter herbs make me whole.” — Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) — “De Profundis”

“When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty.” — George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), “Caesar and Cleopatra”, Act III

“I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.” — Thomas Jefferson to A. Stuart, 1791

“Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. The more uncivilized the man, the surer he is that he knows precisely what is right and what is wrong. All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. The truly civilized man is always skeptical and tolerant, in this field as in all others. His culture is based on “I am not too sure.” — H.L. Mencken

The other shape,
If shape it might be call’d that shape had none
Distinguishable in member, joint, or limb;
Or substance might be call’d that shadow seem’d,
For each seem’d either,–black it stood as night,
Fierce as ten furies, terrible as hell,
And shook a dreadful dart; what seem’d his head
The likeness of a kingly crown had on.
Satan was now at hand.
— John Milton (1608-1674)
— Paradise Lost, Book ii, Line 666

“A wretched soul, bruised with adversity.” — William Shakespeare (1564-1616), The Comedy of Errors — Act ii, Sc. 1

I love these lines, “black as night it stood, fierce as ten furies, terrible as hell, and shook a dreadful dart!” And good old Will, he must have spent some time on the streets, or at least in a state of poverty, to be able to describe so perfectly in one line how it feels at the end of the day…”bruised with adversity.” Bruised indeed….. y’all take care out there….

Sometimes I sits and thinks,
and sometimes
I just sits.