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#25: Depression

Updated: Sep 18, 2021

Hi Everyone,

Dancing in the dark?

Many of you are struggling with depression or know someone who does. I know I do. But like so many other situations, the more we resist it, the stronger it becomes. Instead of resisting the emotions we do not like, we could look at the darkness in another away.

One of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver, wrote in her book Thirst: “Someone I loved once gave me/ a box full of darkness/ It took me years to understand/that this, too, was a gift.”

What is the “gift” that comes from the darkness of depression? Bruce Springsteen wrote a song called Dancing in the Dark that sounds happy. But then I heard a woman singing the song in a slower, different way. I paid attention to the words for the first time and realized that it was about Springsteen’s own lifelong struggle with depression.

How do you dance in the dark?

One way is through the power of acceptance. I understand I do not feel as would like to, but I stop resisting it. Instead feeling lousy about feeling lousy, which becomes an infinite regress, I look for what I can learn.

As I shared once before, Rumi wrote: “The wound is the place where the light enters you.”

We all carry these physical and emotional wounds. How do we open to them to find the gift, to let the light enter? For me, I try to just sit quietly with it. I let myself feel it. In this present moment, I am OK with it. No resistance.

What is the light? I suppose religious people would call it God, but that is a language I struggle with. For me, as a philosopher, the light is what the Greeks called the True, the Good and the Beautiful.

The truth of any illness is that we can learn from it. The goodness of any illness is how our pain, once accepted, can lead to compassion for myself and all others who suffer. The beautiful is the dancing in the dark.

One benefit I noticed is that I have a good bullshit detector. It saves me time and energy to avoid toxic people and situations.

How do you dance in the dark? How does the “box of darkness” become a “gift?” What is the light? These are the questions that we can sit with — quietly — and see what comes up.

Pema Chodron teaches “Feel the feelings and drop the story.”

To Dropping the Story!


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