I can remember the joke about how old people would tell you that they walked three miles to school, uphill both ways. We all laughed because it was so impossible and we knew we were being had.
I woke up laughing this morning. Curled up with the woman I love, something struck us both as funny and we laughed our way out of bed and into our morning. It’s one of the joys of our relationship: We laugh a lot.
It’s a good way to wake up, laughing, and not like my norm at all. We got ourselves together and off she went to work. I left a few minutes behind her to write at my favorite diner for a bit before my first client.
And there I was again, pushing myself uphill, a wave of senseless depression settling on me like fog at night.
Fortunately, it was not bad, and I am well trained in beating that bad boy back. I’m fine now and there are the prospects of a productive morning ahead of me. It’s amazing what two cups of coffee, some readings from the Psalms, and meditation can do. A makeover for the spirit.
But the thing is, as I pushed back that lying piece of garbage that is my depression, how like that statement about walking uphill both ways to school depression is. There’s no coasting with depression. There’s only uphill.
I like stairs. I like two-story houses and often, when I have to go to a second or third floor of a building, I will scurry up the stairs instead of taking an elevator. It’s an easy way to keep in shape for an old guy like me. Lots of stairs though? Like the Washington Monument stairs? It eventually crushes you.
Unless you do it every day. Then you grow strong. And that is one of the positives of walking uphill every day. I’m stronger for it. Not by choice maybe, but by circumstance. If fighting depression built muscles, I’d look like a young Swartzneiger.
I’ve said it before. People who battle depression and other mental illnesses are my heroes. They are not weak, they are strong because they have to be. Most of them never complain. They fight their battles (too) alone, in a society that puts them down for it.
But they are fighters. Ali has nothing on them. Hitting a person is easy. Hitting bad voodoo chemistry and elusive lying demons in your head is hard. But it can be done. With help. You who are living it with help know what I mean. Those of you battling it alone, it’s time to get help. It’s work. Stairs going up both ways. And you getting strong in the process.
Dance like a butterfly. Sting like a bee. You can be like Ali.
Be well. Travel wisely,
PS: The picture was taken at the Hancock Shaker Village in Massachusetts.