A week ago I noticed the robins. In the days since: a bard owl, vultures, pheobes, juncos, flickers, wild turkey, and red wing blackbirds. With the return of the migratory birds, spring can’t be far behind.
The glacier that was once our backyard is slowly receding as well. It has been raining and the season’s first thunderstorm was followed by a bit of hail. As I traipse through the woods the earth is boggy beneath my feet.
What I really long for is sunshine. Not only has the weather been gloomy as of late, so have I. It is not a state of mind that I find acceptable for very long.
This past weekend I spoke briefly at a conference for cancer survivors. There was a question and answer period and someone wondered how I deal with depression. I explained that the first thing I see when I wake is the framed word Gift; a reminder that each day is precious.
Of course, that awareness isn’t always enough. When my kids were younger and in a state of distress, I found distraction and diversion to be the best tactics. That is, unless I too was at wits end, in which case my response might be far less constructive.
A simple change of scenery can nudge me out of a funk sometimes as well. Perhaps a few minutes laying on the floor with Buddy (dog pile), going out into the woods with my camera, trolling at a thrift store or immersing myself in a good book.
I just read The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. It is an autobiography by Jean-Dominique Bauby, who was the editor of French Elle. At the age of 44 he suffered a major stroke, during which he was deprived of almost all bodily function, a state referred to as locked in syndrome. It is a slim volume, which Bauby dictated by blinking his eye to indicate each letter; an unbelievably painstaking process.
Situational diversion was no longer an option for him, and he recreated his own world within his head. His recounting is simply amazing.
For me as well, distraction is occasionally cerebral. Recently my oldest son, August, was in the midst of a personal crisis. Although we spoke often on the phone, I really wanted to actually be there for him. As I lay in bed at night, I replayed memories from the moment of his birth, as if by doing so I could hold him close.
When feeling sad, sometimes it is forgetfulness that I seek. That is, of course, only a temporary solution. Ultimately I must return to mindfulness, and embrace the here and now. Even when it hurts.