When I was in the hospital for depression in my early twenties I imagined that my depression would make me wise. Yet really, depression was like a great beast that stood in my way and prevented me from moving. I was utterly self focused; my pain had taken over the world. When I now read letters I wrote during those days, they read like the letters of a child, or the concussed.
Of course, in hospital — eventually — in the company of the grieving and a group of adults who have all made attempts on their lives — one still learns some lessons. But those lessons come slowly — we learn them obliquely, but surely.
At work the other day I found myself giving advice to a co-worker who wanted to quit after being overlooked for a promotion. But all she needed, I was sure, was six more months, and patience with herself. I found myself telling her to give herself time, to stop fighting. This obstacle is like a wave, I told her. Don’t go up against the wave. Go under it.
She hasn’t quit yet. I hope it’s a good sign… And here, below Al Franken (Stuart Smalley) giving advice to Michael Jordan.