Monday, October 31, 2011

Leaving the default Down

“That’s not a very healthy lunch,” the clerk said to me. And I did something I rarely do. I looked up into the face of a stranger. Between me and her was a big gulp and a handful of condiment packages I was planning on taking home. The checkout girl at the 7-11 had a big smile and it surprised me. I smiled feebly and mumbled some excuse and left the store and never saw her again.

That evening as I cooked noodles and ketchup from one of the packets I thought of cool replies. Most of them painted a picture of me living a life straight out of a depressing Bruce Springsteen song. I wanted to answer her cheerful smile with a desolate reply and thought it might endear her to me. This was 21 years ago. I was driving a broken down Chevy, barely making it by with only weekend hours at my job. I was living on cigarettes and noodles. Worst of all I was lonely. And I shared my feelings to anyone who would listen. I liked to listen to other people’s problems and boasted I could solve anyone’s but my own. My whole outlook was still default down. And I thought it was cool to live that way.

A few months ago I changed the overall style of my blog. I told less random stories from growing up and tried to start writing more about what was going on in my life. When I first heard the suggestion to take my blog that way my thought was that not enough happens to me to write something significant once a week. But I’ve gone ahead with it and written not only about my life but current world events that I think about. Some blogs may have a dull topic but I take each one as a challenge to at least write good sentences.

And reading back over the past few months I’ve noticed a very positive theme to my writing. Even when I had to cancel my yearly sabbatical to the desert I put a thankful tone to that writing. I looked at these works of mine and wondered about what had happened to that dark brooding writer with the perpetual scowl. Was I going to have to turn in my long black coat for a brightly colored sweater?

When baby is teething they are miserable. They are feverish and not hungry and more drooly that usual. Then the tooth breaks through and suddenly the pain is gone. Time after time I saw this. The baby is suddenly delighted and more cheery than even before teething. Sometimes after a spell of misery you can’t help but breathe easier and hold your head higher just from the joy and relief that it’s over.

Now I’ve not been down and depressed for 21 years. Soon after the girl talked to me at the 7-11 I got more hours at work and was able to eat a little better. Within a year I was dating Prajna and another year we were married and expecting a child. Of course I had a better attitude then. But this past decade saw me falling down a lot. I scraped down to lows that made my post college anxiety seem comical. It was a long struggle. But now because of prayer and support from others and the grace of God I am better. That abysmal time is over. The tooth has broken through and I feel better. It’s not an effort to see the positive side of things anymore. I can just see them. And I want to share them. Thanks for letting me share.

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