When we consider that other theory of the natural philosophers that all other earthly hues—every stately or lovely emblazoning—the sweet tinges of sunset skies and woods, yea, and the gilded velvets of butterflies, and the butterfly cheeks of young girls; all these are but subtle deceits, not actually inherent in the substances but only laid on from without: so that all deified Nature absolutely paints like the harlot, whose allurements cover nothing but the charnel-house within; and when we proceed further, and consider the mystical cosmetic which produces every one of her hues, the great principal of light, forever remains white or colorless in itself, and if operating without medium upon matter, would touch all objects, even tulips and roses, with its own blank tinge–
The Whiteness of the Whale, Chapter 42
As I read Erik’s The Darkness Draws the Light I was humbled. Isn’t it arrogant of me to indulge myself and parade about in moments of darkness? I have no cause; I have nothing to complain about. How many times was I told growing up how much worse it could be. And, yes, it could have been. Much worse. Much much worse. Who was I to read The Bell Jar? To carry it with me everywhere as my saddle oxfords padded through the glass halls suspended three stories over rolling manicured lawns, past the Great Hall, the gardens and terraces into the dining room where the women in their aprons and hair nets handed us warm slices of lemon chess pie?
(Skipping ahead) There was one college English professor I hated because, as she spoke of the Seven Deadly Sins, she equated Sloth to depression. “It’s what you college kids call ‘depression’,” she stated flatly and dismissively. It was the week following my fist diagnosis : Major Clinical Depression. It was during the time I was first reading Moby-Dick. I was never able to embrace Chaucer after she said that. But Ishmael–I fell in love with Ishmael.
There is a web site I turn to when I want a laugh: http://whitewhine.com/ It’s all about perspective, and I know this about myself. I grew up in a very sheltered world. I’m still circulating in that very sheltered world and I’m pretty much raising my own kids in that very sheltered world. It’s world where the Moms compare their trials with the faulty electric gate opener, and, as they talk, I’m picturing the neighbor kids, Henry and Junior, and how they love to bowl down the hill at top speed and then cut their bikes across my corner lot. There is no fence. No electric gate to get stuck, no unreliable electric gate repairman to show up or not. I have no such problems. I have other problems, and I could really judge their conversation for that.
But I also know, one of these Moms has suffered something worse than anything I can imagine.
Her child died in her arms.
Being rich didn’t stop it. The best doctors didn’t stop it. If there is a God, which she does believe, He, The Almighty, felt no reason to stop this. One might not wonder why The Almighty let him enter this world, knowing his heart would not last more than a few days. There had been no signs during the pregnancy. Only all the usual joy, showers, anticipation, preparing the nursery. The dreams.
Her son, only days old, died in her arms and she mourned. She still does. She will for the rest of her life, but she does it very very privately and in a way that does not erase the presence of her two living children. So if she wants to talk about how she really wished the gate repair man would not say he was coming and then not come because then the poor dog, who has brain damage (dog grooming incident, oxygen deprivation), cannot be left out side because the gate repair man might be coming. . .let her.
That final exhalation, his tiny fist wrapped round her finger lost its urgent grip. It did not drop, she was probably holding him too close for his body to shift much at all as he lost his hold on her, on this world.
Let her laugh and love and coddle her kids and her brain damaged dog. Because there is no such thing as a sheltered life. Why do we judge so much? Why do we judge ” the other”? And why, oh why, oh why do we judge ourselves? Why do we judge how appropriate or inappropriate it is for us to laugh or cry?
Or fall into darkness?
Show me your pass, the inner voice commands. Do you belong here?
We have judged each other into our own isolation.
I want out.