Thursday, March 14, 2019

Constrained By Chaos

Chaos abounds. It breaks apart time. We cannot expect to live forever. We cannot expect to have every hope and dream and wish fulfilled. There are too many variables. There is too much misalignment. If expectation be the triumph of hope over experience, then caught up in the course of experience, one learns to allow for sand castles to be taken too.

Friends find themselves waylaid by vicissitudes. The vagaries of chance and accident and the sadly unexpected beleaguers them. This one has been in the hospital for six weeks now. That one has just suffered atrial-fibrillation. This one has just fallen off a buckling ladder, broken both wrists and an elbow. That one, suffering from undissolved embolisms, paid a second visit to the emergency department. This one... And so it goes. Old age is not for sissies. Yet children also wail from behind closed doors. Chaos attacks any age, in any decade. Chaos can be cruel, inconsiderate, and enervating. It robs. It destroys. We can despair with its relentless erosion of our preferred possibilities. And at times it can test our resilience, repeatedly. Yet not all is bad.

Adam Broadford, relating his ADMISSION, a Story Born of Africa, finds much of his life a turbulent challenge. Chaos envelopes him. But central to his resilient disposition is the perpetual determination not to react, but to respond. That which is cruel and brutal and awful has him determine to be different. That which fragments and breaks apart has him determine to become yet more accommodating, inclusive, integrative. There is always a tomorrow, and each day brings him closer to a time when he will be free to make choices independent of others. Children do not have those choices. But beyond the enclosing walls of secrecy and shame that Adam must countenance, there can be a good influence, if someone, somewhere, sometime, gets to know it.

The great adventurers lost to us, remain lost. Take Sir Robert Broadford. He left Britain and ventured with a small party into the heart of Africa, in the early1800’s, even before David Livingston. Problem is, he was never heard from again. In an age when mounting an expedition to go in search of a lost soul was fiscally, logistically, and materially very different from today’s ease with planes, trains, and automobiles, not to mention telephones and internet, Sir Robert’s life became ‘lost’. What he learned, is gone. But how many people, en route, did he not affect?

Point is, the interior journeys we each make are not always visible to others. The chaos we endure, as the fragmentation of our own ideals gets shattered, can remain concealed unless we succeed (let alone choose,) to bruit our finding abroad. And even then, which of our words do not get misinterpreted, what intentions do not get misconstrued, and what adventures do not find satisfactory conclusion? Yet just by living, itself, we affect others. The net effect, bit for bit in the annals of history, horizontal step for step, hierarchical spiral for spiral, engenders mans’ very progress within the greater chaos that has inveigled us all. We can but plan, and allow the Gods their laugh. It is in our response (as opposed to reaction) that we show conscious evolution. It is in our individual cognizance that we each contribute toward the bell-curve, shuffling it along the mortal coil inherent not only to each of us, but to any Time Period defining a given lifetime.

Adam Broadford stepped out of the box into which he was born. He needed to. Not everyone feels so compelled. But given our burgeoning refugee numbers, and given the dissolution of our old historical traditions and values and practices, it is evident that we, as mankind, are speeding up, comparatively, toward a future that some think they can foresee, that others think might be bright, and yet others feel is more akin toward heading into an abyss. And you? How fare you?

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Dispelling Deep Dark Depression

‘They’ say depression can be more a matter of chemistry than it might be in the mind. How truly awful for those so afflicted. Is life really just a matter of ‘what you eat, you are’? We can attempt to think our way into a new threshold, but if the body will not follow, and the mind will not accept, then we can but rail, rail against the loss of the comfort-zone. Despite ‘choice,’ tradition and acculturation envelopes us. Throughout history we’ve bemoaned ‘change.’ Great swaths of time have proved severe, horrid, and entirely unacceptable. In the rear-view mirror it can all be seen as very dreadful, if not in the window upon the future outlook from within our present times too.

We are ‘victims’ of the times. Awful circumstances can envelope us, enfold us. Yet quite often, rewarding times can enrich us too. It’s at the ‘crossing of the threshold’ that we can determine our viewpoints. In the sense of paradigm shifts needing the dissolution, the degeneration, or the fragmentation of the old, before the new paradigm asserts itself, one may find the insecure anxiety of awaiting the certainty of the new, to be disarming, indeed. Like stepping from the jetty onto the rocking boat; like feeling blindly for the unseen rung below one’s foot; like hoping in the dark that one’s stretched-out fingers may click on the light-switch. What does the future foretell?

That’s what happens to Adam, the protagonist of ADMISSION, A Story Born of Africa. Twice, in the dark, he feels for the light switch, the same switch, in the generator-machine shed. The first time, when he is four, it ends in humor. The second time, when he is eleven, it ends in death. But for Adam the ongoing challenges of his life never culminate in depression; he is too determined to keep journeying toward a future that is of his own making. To choose! In his life, each obstacle is something, at the very least, to be outwaited, since he knows down deep that circumstances keep changing, as long as he looks for, or awaits, the time to make his choices.

Helpless, we may not always leap the chasms between what was, and what we foresee; and therein, in that very uncertainty, can lie our debilitating fear. If life were more assured, we may more easily go into the ‘good night’ of old age. Not all of it ought to need to be a raging-rage against the dying of the light. Not every future is dismal. Not every ‘progress’ is detrimental.

Thing is, depression itself can arise out of traumatic experiences. But not necessarily. Post trauma (as we know the syndrome,) is usually the result of some awful experience. But not all depression needs one’s own direct physical experience; our mental apprehension can be quite sufficient. The little girl, seeing and hearing her mummy get bitten by the bee, may register inordinate anxiety over bees the rest of her life. The boy, seeing and hearing his dad panic over the snake in their path, may never overcome such built-in fear. Indeed, some of our problem is that many fears are deeply subconscious. And then again, sometimes we know precisely why we fear, are anxious, or get depressed. Life has taught us ‘a sadness.’ We feel that we cannot change our external circumstances, let alone ourselves. We do, indeed, fear for the future!

Indignities can attend our aging and bone-aching cage. Hurt digs at our heartsore of personal losses. Anger rises at those who do not, will not, cannot alter the seemingly clear and imminent foreclosure on our earth. The dismal outlook for our children; the earth’s bulging and unchecked masses; the shrinking biodiversity; the soiled ocean; the gritty air; and the painfully inherent actuality that we no longer shall be able to protect and contribute and give succor to those we love, closely, much less the populace and the fauna and flora at large, all of it, is a future bleak and uncertain and horrid in the foreseeing. Mindfulness, chemistry, feelings, choices; where does one draw a line? ‘God give me the grace to change what I can, and to accept the things I cannot’?

Then again, if ‘choice’ be the elixir of life, then by breathing, now for now, and feeling grateful for each breath, we may find ourselves a passage of rite; a depression perhaps given light; right?