It is a flat day. Hard to get up. Hard to get going. Hard to believe my life and work have meaning.
It’s a lie of course.
That’s what depression does. It lies. That nasty little trait is why I often call my depression Satan. The devil. The Demon. It’s why I am always at war with it.
For those of you rusty on your bible, Satan was the most beautiful of the angels. The most handsome. Best voice. The kind of guy you’d believe if he told you black was white or Brussel sprouts were delicious (I hate Brussel sprouts.). Persuasive and oozing authority and power and sureness. But for a bucket full of pride and a propensity to lie, he might have become the number one angel of all time. And in God’s universe where all time means eternity, that’s a long time.
I have always imagined that if we ran into him today, he would be wearing that perfect Brooks Brother’s suit. His hair would be crisply cut with just enough gray to give him gravitas. His voice would sound like Sam Eliot. Running into him, listening to him speak, he’d combine the believability of a CEO and your family doctor. Except of course, that he’s lying.
Why Satan would bother with me, I can’t imagine. I’m a quiet guy in a quiet town. My kids are raised. Yeah, I am a part-time preacher, but my church is tiny. No danger of a crusade there. I am a painter but the one or two paintings I move into other people’s homes each month are not going to change the world. And I write, but the few hundred readers I have each day are a raindrop in the ocean of the billions of people in the world. I’m no danger to anybody. But Satan is something of a bully. Just like my depression. He loves the small and broken. Easy prey. T
Plus, I just need someone to blame for my depression. Why not go to the top? We can blame people in our lives, or situations if we want, and there is no denying that those people and situations. We could blame our own bodies and the mixing bowl of chemicals that’s gone haywire up there in the cranium. But none of those are good to blame. They are dead, or gone or temporary, or in the case of blaming ourselves, counterproductive.
No, in today’s Marvel Movie comic book world, we need an enemy. A villain. someone to fight against. I pick Satan. He fits the bill. A smooth lying bully. That’s something I can get my teeth into. That’s something I can rail against. That’s something, that in the early morning and I am feeling flat and down, I can push against and feel get angry at and push through to my real and far better life than he would imagine I could knock out.
When I was a teenager, I found myself in a fight with a large football player type. It seems he thought my girlfriend was his girlfriend, and he planned to teach me a lesson. I was 5′ 11″ and 120 pounds. He was inches taller and ginormous. I was, I was sure, dead meat. He swung. I ducked. I swung, and my some miracle, connected, and he stumbled down and whomped his head on the ground. Down for the count. Dumb luck. My life is full of it. He never bothered me again. What I learned in that is that even little guys can win sometime,
And so each morning I take my swing at Satan, my depression. I don’t connect very often, but just the fact that I’m fighting back seems to make him back off. Maybe he knows about my fifteen-year-old prize fight. But whatever the reason, my combination of meditation, journal writing, and regular writing seems, most days, to make him reconsider. Life becomes ordinary. The whispers of worthlessness grow quiet. My natural state of “I can do this.” gets a chance to life it’s life for the rest of the day.
Of course, he always comes back. He’s a persistent devil, that’s for sure.
But so am I.
Be well. Travel wisely,