I think one of the best recommendations I have ever read is from an old and dear book of my youth that attempts to keep readers out of trouble. This recommendation, that lives in me always is, “Seek neither to run nor to recriminate.” In this, I feel, one does the least harm. And even if one has been harmed oneself, or harmed another and made amends — or not depending on if the other party has cut you dead — one does not continue the harm, but lets it go.
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.
That’s a song by Daniel Johnston that I love; you can hear — no, scrap that, you can experience it here. Also, I heard on Christian Radio today (I live in a Christian area), that one must never argue with the Devil because the Devil will always win.
This is an experience I have found to be true. I used to worry that knowing , in advance, that another person would outmaneuver me, meant that said person was stronger or mentally quicker than I, but really, it just meant that they were crueler.
Half of life is knowing when to walk away. There is dignity in walking, and humility and peace. Know when to cut and run, friends. The life you save, as they say, may be your own.
I heard the voice of Satan crying in the woods…
Did I ever stop and tell you I am a desperate man… a desperate man..
An audio reading, by me, of my short story Ted is out this summer in a new issue of Richard Peabody’s lit anthology Gargoyle 69.
Ted is the story of loving someone you are not meant to love and how that love will fail — yet there is no real failure in love, is there? Because you always have those first feelings, that attempt, that empathy, and knowledge that you once, at least, and hopefully many times thereafter, lived well enough to throw logic, caution and other people’s judgments to the wind. (Living, it should be called). This is available on a CD here. The beginning lines, I post below:
is always useful, in term of relationships, because — so it seems to me — whenever one goes back to the past in hope of creating a new or different future, one finds that there is no new future, that there is only a repetition of the past, that caused one so much pain, friends, for a reason, not a mis-step or mistake or misjudgment. But a reason. One need only to accept and inhabit the reason. This is the only way forward. And if you think there is no reason, you must do nothing but wait — for it will come. As Denis Johnson told me at a reading the year he died, “Give it Time.”
Once, I dropped down to about 100 pounds, at age 35, from the stress of a relationship, and when I left the relationship, I collapsed and had organ failure and then for no good reason, back pain so I couldn’t walk and had back surgery, and 6 years of violent pain — and through this, I suddenly began to be fired from all the jobs I tried to hold, because I was so weak and in so much pain I would lash out or cry.
I shook like leaf for six years… and I will never again be the person I was. So if someone is rude to you, or missteps, consider that they might be in the midst of something they can’t even put words to — the way I was. And hold back from dismissing them, or striking back, as that is not the way. (not that I am anyone to tell another what to do.) x
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