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Depression

August 15, 2014

Robin Williams’ death has been ascribed to “depression”. Like any one word describing intricate and indefinite circumstances, this pigeon hole falls absurdly short. Now we know money and health were part of his recent life, taking a lifelong struggle into crisis, revealing that one-note diagnosis to be simplistic.

To end life’s Prime Directive (staying alive) billion year hardwiring has to be subverted by, – what? “Depression”? Understanding the set of realities that undo the central purpose of every living thing is way above my pay grade.

But words mean things. “Depression” is not suppression or regression – it’s taking a stable base and making it less. Not reduction, not removal, but making what is, less – “down” is the direction, but less is the result. I have never done drugs, save alcohol, and many drugs, including booze, are classified as “depressants”. Having enough trouble coping and dealing sober, weaving distortion into my day-to-day life is not possible for me. Altho I drank gallons of Genesee Cream Ale every night for a semester or two in 1976, I never drank alone.

Drinking was part of anti-depression in college. I was dumb enough to think being drunk was enough to be, in the moment, happy. My friends and I had wildly giddy nights and hyper responsible days, and I graduated a semester early, despite all the beer. Since then I can honestly say I have never drunk alone, and have not drunk to get drunk. I have been drunk since college, but accidentally so, and have felt more dumb than giddy.

So I find the tidal wave of acquiescence to legalize pot depressing, just as I find willful drinking to get drunk depressing, as is the idea of sucking any smoke into your body to fuzz up your world. I would drink a lot more alcohol if it did not have the side effect of getting me drunk, as what I now drink, unlike Genesee Cream Ale, tastes wonderful to me. I have never met anyone who felt the same way about pot.

The massive overload of legal “be happy” drugs pushed mostly on aging boomers is also depressing. Botox, 4 hour erections, post menopausal lubrication all seem to put the cart before the horse: Unless your baseline life is rewarding, distractions become preoccupations: money, looks, resumes, politics, religion define you – or you intentionally distort your outlook to fuzz unhappiness into OK. For a while. 

It’s depressing to think that our lives are so wanting that the acts of unknowables: royals, rappers, athletes, Kardashians, politicians intoxicate our perspective to fuzzy up our lives. Humans are hardwired to have heroes and villains, but this type of love and loathing has been steroid-fed by the Internet into mass stalking of the loved and loathed – celebrated, political, religious. The devotional projections of old worship patterns – loving saints/hating the devil – has slid off our plate, replaced with the junk food of popular culture.

Almost none of us seem happy in a closed loop, with life centered only on what we are doing in the moment. “It’s never enough” means we walk on the moon, paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and invent the Iphone. But it also means rolling a joint or having another $1.15 pitcher of Genny Cream Ale in 1976. It means we care about who is president and post our lunches on Face Book.

“The center cannot hold” in our lives if we somehow reach the conclusion we have no center. When the peripherals of a life – having a drink, being attractive, getting a raise – become that center they fuzz up the rest of our lives. 

When architects design for a few singular killer images of whatever is built, the actual building – versus the image – becomes distorted and its functionality and its response to its environment is compromised. When any of us focus our lives on things we have no knowledge of, save what we see or hear thru the lens of culture, we lose touch with the real environment we live in and our functionality gets fuzzy. 

No one has an unfuzzy life. Hopes become expectation, and no expectation gets completely fulfilled. “Hope and Change” elected a president: he has admitted not all of his hopes nor all of his changes were fulfilled despite huge support. In truth no one has control of life. Our dearest life creations, our children, never follow a parent’s expectations – when either parent or child has that criteria for success, failure is inevitable. 

But the dead wooly mammoth on our culture’s table is not unmet hopes, its death. The one great uncontrollable – unless to end it yourself. Whether God, Gaia or Dark Energy determines the rules of existence, humans do not. That is depressing to most of us. 

If Robin Williams was committed to an insane asylum, went bankrupt, or died of Parkinson’s Disease it would be sad and noteworthy given his cultural prominence. But in taking his own life, Williams acted out in the central theater of all our fears: death. We live assuming baseline control over the day to day, but clearly we are ultimately controlled: our time in the only plane of existence we know: the here and now – ends. 

Rather than ask the hard questions of meaning oathed in all the replays of Williams-recited roles in film, most of us “stay busy”. Or drink Genny.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 1, 2014 4:49 am

    Having read this I thought it was very enlightening. I appreciate you
    finding the time and energy to put this short article together.
    I once again find myself personally spnding way too much time both reading
    and commenting. Buut sso what, it was still worthwhile!

  2. Secret Santa permalink
    November 30, 2014 1:04 pm

    …sigh…(exhale)…
    Beautiful words, as always, Duo-
    I love reading your words, they are powerful and though provoking-

    although the pot comments are really quite sad, naïve, and just wrong. You even proclaim ignorance of it by never having done it!! So, according to your own writing, you have no idea what effects/benefits pot really has!

    There are two main types: one energizes, the other relaxes. It’s a euphoriant, in general, although some people react differently to it and feel sleepy instead.

    I personally DO like the taste and smell, and also cook with it for health reasons. So now you can say you know someone who actually LIKES it.

    There is NO comparison between pot and booze. If anything booze should be a controlled substance, it’s dangerous, people get addicted to it, people kill each other due to it’s influence, it’s a toxin.

    I do drink socially, not much- because I hate the way it dims my bulb. I’ve watched in horror as supposedly sane people would become frothing, violent, nonsensical imbeciles as they get drunk. With pot, the worst I’ve seen is someone going through a 1/2 hour laughing fit, then becoming paranoid that everyone knows they are stoned.

    Pot does not “fizz” or “fuzz” your world. For many, it “sharpens” it, opens it up (depending on which strain one smokes). Why do you think SO many of the world’s best musicians, creative thinkers, physicists, philosophers, and artist used it? One of my good friends, a Theoretical Physicist, uses it regularly after doing some heavy thinking, and finds it opens him up to new possibilities. He also eats more cookies, and enjoys them more (he has serious troubles trying to gain weight).

    Finally there are many who use it daily as medicine for pain, and nausea (it is anti-nausea, anti-spasmodic- especially good for those with chronic pain, or going through cancer treatments). Perhaps if you actually smoke some, and it should be good- not the cheap Genee Cream Ale variety pot, your tune might change. It should be legal, and taxed, it would put a lot more money into the state coffers.

    Sad about Robin Williams, but I think it’s one’s own personal right to live or die. I respect his decision. If I had a Parkinson’s diagnosis, I might do the same- and I’m not depressed. In fact, I think it’s a very sane thing to do when there is no cure, and it will become a functioning mind trapped in a withering body- not everyone is a Stephen Hawking and wishes to stick it out- RW’s world was about using his body and language with timing honed like a classical musician’s. Exquisite timing, and that would be a living hell to go through. THAT’s depressing!
    Just my 3 cents.
    🙂

    • November 30, 2014 1:48 pm

      You are the 666th comment Santa!
      So you would smoke do

      • November 30, 2014 1:50 pm

        Argh: phones! so you would Smoke dope if it has no effect other than its taste?

      • Santa 667 permalink
        November 30, 2014 1:57 pm

        Well, truthfully, I like smoking, but I don’t smoke cigs, cigars, and pipes any more. If tobacco wasn’t so addictive, and cancer causing, I’d probably still smoke. But as it is, I vaporize the green stuff, or eat it, so it’s not really smoking, and it does have a lovely herbal taste.
        🙂

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