Charles Dicken’s introduced the classic Tale of Two Cities with one of the best opening lines of all time:
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…
I could really use an introduction like that for this post. The Spring Equinox has just passed and I should be busy dusting off my neglected Bucket List. We picked an “easy” item from the List as a warm-up. Monica and I are leaving for Venice to eat pizza in St Mark’s Square. I’m supposed to be practicing my Italian. At least enough to say, “Hello, Domino’s Pizza? Yes. We would like to order a large Supreme pizza please.”
Instead, I’m losing a battle with this bastard of a companion who is determined to keep me imprisoned. I refer to him as “Eddie, my inner editor,” but his clinical names are depression, anxiety, and PTSD (Eddie is far more palatable, right?).
I could fake it for a few days, since most of my interactions are viewed through the brightening filter of the internet. But eventually, I couldn’t even bring myself to visit the blogs that I’ve come to enjoy so much, or return texts from family and friends. My world has shrunk. I’m spending more than 20 hours a day either in bed or on the floor. Afraid to go outside, anxious that I’ll make a mistake, and miserable because I realize all of this is irrational.
“Am I in the right place?”
A few of you that began following me recently are probably confused right now. You may be asking, “What happened to the guy that brought us light and pithy posts to help wash down our morning coffee?” I’m so glad you’re here, and I hope you’ll stick around. However, as much as I’d like to, I can’t be that guy all the time. Part of me wants to, but I can’t.
I could keep this dark and depressing garbage to myself until it passes. Believe me, I want to. It’s humiliating and disgusting. And nobody wants to hear it. (Almost) nobody.
There might be a few that may know what I’m talking about. Maybe you have an “Eddie” (or Edwina) of your own. The dark spaces and crushing weight of life may be separating you from others and keep you from pursuing your dreams. That tortured mumble you hear is me speaking to you right now.
Depression Lies. Anxiety Sucks. PTSD is real.
I am Here too.
It feels like it, but you’re not alone. And I keep reminding myself that I’m not either. It helps to know that Monica is here. However, she has learned not to get down in the pit with me. Somebody has to hold on tight to a solid foundation, with an outreached hand that’s there for me to grab hold of when I have the strength to reach out.
I can already tell that I’m going to be able to get out of this pit. I hope it’s in time to catch our flight to Venice. Monica sure deserves a huge slice of pizza on the stones of St Mark’s Square. And I’m really looking forward to remembering that “I can’t” is another step on my way to “We did it.”
Fulfilling a promise
A wonderful blogger, Buffy Devane, is a poet and virtual friend. We have never met, but the poetry he shares, and connection we have forged is very real to me. He encouraged me several weeks ago to write my own little piece of prose (I think my goal was to learn how to break a bad habit of telling a 6-word story in a 1000. Those of you that have seen any of my (Almost) Wordless Wednesday posts know that I have a lot of work to do.) My short 100-word piece of free verse turned into a 4-character flash fiction (Dad, Sara, Maple Leaf, and Water Drop) with an unresolved climax. I’ll have to come back to it later, but I promised I’d share. For what it’s worth, here it is…
The Circle of Life
This is Sara’s first time hunting for good carving logs, so Dad decides they won’t wander to far off the game trail. The route Dad has planned is a pretty good one: rolling hills scattered with climbable boulder piles, two streams, and a great selection of trees. He has already scoured this section for anything carvable. Today it’s all about crisp early morning air, dirty boots, and scurrying critters. Quality father-daughter time.
Sara has a too-big gnarled stick she uses to poke at mushrooms and turn over interesting rocks along the side of the path. Sometimes he can answer her “What’s this?” and “How come?” questions, but they will both have lots to look up when they get back to the cabin. He reaches a solitary maple tree and slumps against a mossy rock posted just outside its shadowy skirt. Sara’s meandering pace and his familiarity with the terrain gives him the chance to shift focus above eye level while he waits for her to catch up.
There, in the tangled network of nearly naked branches, a large maple leaf clings furiously to his stem. His strain so tenuous, he is brilliant red as though holding his breath. So many of his brothers and sisters have already fallen to the ground below. Within his five-fingered web, he cups the dregs of nourishing morning dew. Two droplets pool along spindly yellow veins. Despite the maple leaf’s efforts, a pregnant sphere finds its way to the edge. Dangling playfully for a moment, it makes a bold escape. A stray beam of sunlight dances along the bead’s perfect borders, casting a brilliant flash in a brief moment of shared freedom.
Dad follows it to a splattering finale. Sara, perhaps drawn by the twinkle, drops her stick and clomps through the ankle-deep bed of crackling leaf corpses, straight at the heart of the maple tree. She slaps a claiming palm on its furrowed scales. “I want this one,” she says.
He cranes his neck to take in the full expanse of her request. “You want us to cut down a live one?”
– Gabriel Burkhardt
19 Mar 2017