I shared something on social media recently and it looked like this:
In case you didn’t want to click on the pic and zoom in on it, one of the things I said was “while I am very sad sometimes, I’m doing well today.” A friend then asked, in the comments below: “Why are you sad, Jace?”
It was hours later when I noticed her comment and I was heading to bed then. The question surprised me — I appreciated how direct it was, but people are rarely direct like this (it takes guts), so I needed a minute.
I thought about typing out a quick “well, there are several reasons” kinda response but decided that would be lame. Too vague. And I knew the full answer would take time to a. realize and b. articulate, so I decided to leave the question unaddressed until I had time to for-real answer it.
So Sherry, a few days later, here’s your answer, and thank you for inviting me to really gaze in at this.
- Chemical reasons
- Heart reasons
- Purpose reasons
I’ve always had a touch of melancholy.
I can remember, way early on, feeling inexplicably sad and alone. Alone in the sense that I wasn’t on the same page, or wavelength, as other people (and while this didn’t make me better or worse, I just couldn’t understand or relate well with people, especially girls, and believed they were thoroughly disinterested in and baffled by me).
I felt discontent too, like I wasn’t enough and this wasn’t enough (not in a material kind of way but a spiritual one), and though I’m not an addict, I’ve recently realized that it’s this lack of contentedness that attracts me to addicts… I like that they’re dissatisfied with where they’re at and what they’re working with and that they’re searching for something more: meaning, purpose, soul. The drugs are just a bad habit.
Anyways, while I can attribute some of these sentiments to my upbringing (feeling alienated from my brother because of his illness; alienated from the church because of my extremist beliefs; and alienated from the rest of the world because I wasn’t allow to be “in it”), I think a lot if it was still just me.
One of my strongest memories is of me kicking a tree when I was young, no reason. The second I kicked it, I felt horrible. I realized, at that moment, that the tree could feel things in its own way, and I resolved to never cause that kind of pain again.
We’ve already slipped into this a bit (with the tree thing), but I’m very much in love with everyone and everything and it hurts to be this way. I know that every single thing I love will go away and that the more souls I love, the more future pain I’m creating as there’s a direct parallel between the two. You can’t really hold onto anything, and with most things, you don’t get to be with them for very long. I know this now.
So it’s an old lesson, an unoriginal one that I’ve shared before, but it stands true: Appreciate every single thing. Experience it and love it and be with it fully until it’s gone, because it will be.
The world overwhelms me. I’ve abandoned organized religion (preferring my own kind of spirituality) but still maintain a strong sense of morality — my intuition has a very clear sense of what’s right and what’s wrong and when people are mean to each other, animals, or the planet, it crushes me.
That’s one reason why I broke up with the last guy; we couldn’t go anywhere without him making fun of someone or something (the placement of a sign, the exterior of a home, the outfit of some trucker) and it hurt my feelings when he did.
When I passed by that concentration camp of cows out in Kansas, I felt like I was dying. I remember standing outside the car and weeping and wailing and wanting myself to end.
Because I knew I couldn’t free all of the cows (or that I could but that they’d just get wrangled back up again while I’d be sent off to some weird prison for animal liberators) and knowing that I couldn’t make a big difference, a meaningful one — that I couldn’t even save the cow who locked eyes with me and who I wanted to take home and make comfortable out in the yard — made me despair. If I could have at least fit that single fat cow into the back of Cate’s car, I swear I might have tried…
But I’ve found ways to cope.
During the hardest parts of these chemical loops (my depression is steady with cyclical lows), I do nice things for myself: get a latte, take a hike, open windows, throw my blanket in the dryer so it comes out warm… when my mind is hostile toward me and my heart seems smaller (or too big to handle), I do things that warm me up physically, that either make me more comfortable or pull my focus outward.
Then again, sometimes, I just sit on the stairs and wallow in it. Different approaches on different days. It isn’t always elegant and easy… sometimes, it’s best to just feel it all the fucking way; other times, I’ve gotta distance myself from myself to end up alright.
For the heart stuff, it’s even more complicated. Currently catching feelings for that guy I mentioned in my last post and when I visited Charlie at Whole Foods this morning (sat with him while he ate breakfast), our conversation went like this:
Charlie: Are you stressed?
Jace: No… do I seem stressed?
Charlie: Are you sure?
Jace: I mean — financially, a little, because of the whole part-time work, full-time school thing… but I know it’ll work out. It has to. A pause. I mean, I AM thinking about him and wondering if I’m going to see him later today or if I’m not and I’d just like to know which… but it’s whatever. Another pause. And I’m not going to text him first.
Yes, I know the stupid text thing is juvenile, and I do not care. And YES; I AM a strong, independent, and self-sufficient woman who enjoys her own company and knows how to entertain slash busy herself, but when you like someone, they inevitably occupy your thoughts. Duh!
I assured Charlie that I was perfectly happy with the idea of passing the evening solo, naming off all the different ways I could spend my time, but his face stayed the same. Maybe I’ve convinced you better than I was able to assure him… no idea.
Anyways, in terms of purpose, I’ve already accepted the harsh reality that I can’t change the whole world – impossible – but I’ve also happily accepted the responsibility of changing it as much as I can. It’s as simple as keeping granola bars and peaches in my backpack for homeless folks and doing a stinky sinkful of dishes at home so my roommates don’t have to deal with them. Little things, and sometimes, bigger things.
Speaking of small-impact whatevers, something cute happened this morning!
I was leaving the neighborhood and heading to the coffee shop when I spotted a distinct shape on the road ahead of me: it looked like a turtle. Sidebar: Charlie loves turtles so much he identifies as one.
Anyways, I slowed my car a bit as I drew closer to the thing and sure enough, it was a turtle. “It’s going to take you forever,” I murmured aloud, not that taking forever to do something is a negative but taking a long time to cross a medium-traffic road is certainly dangerous.
So I pulled off into a rich person’s driveway, put the car in park, and grabbed my scarf (the one from Ecuador — magical!) out of the backseat. I noticed, as I began walking back toward the turtle, that the car that had been driving behind me was now turning around. Wondered about it but only a little.
When I made it over to where the turtle was, I could hear an engine getting close so I looked up and realized that the folks driving behind me – hazard lights on now – were protecting the turtle and I from getting hit. They must have known what I was doing! I waved my thanks and scooped the turtle up, talking to him quietly so he wouldn’t freak out as much, and walked him over to the grass. When I set him back down again, his little legs popped out and I could have sworn that he looked back at me a little, and that he looked like he was happy.
“THANKS FOR DOING THAT,” the drivers called out, and I thanked them for helping. This was, so far, the nicest part of my day (likely theirs, too).
I woke up with shepherds on either side of me, helped a turtle get its slow ass cross the road, and changed seats at the cafe twenty minutes ago so a family of four would have room to sit together… little things that have made little differences. And this is usually enough.
Though there are days when I feel so colossally lacking in the amount of impact I’m making that I want to just dip out (there’s too much bad stuff, I can’t handle it) or move states (I need to get closer to the mountains and the rivers) or join the Peace Corp (I need to get far away from everyone I love before they leave and it hurts again), but I’m usually able to talk myself down from such high-level moves. And Tycho is usually at the center of my coming down. I stay here and I stay sane for her, mostly.
Before I go…
Guy and I made homemade mac and cheese together the other night.
It turned out really well, and when he was moving excess flour from the counter to the trashcan, he spilled a good bit of it on the floor. I thought it looked really pretty.
It was probably 2 AM and we were still on the couch when I looked over at him and said: “I do like you, you know.” I told him that I didn’t want us to call this anything because I didn’t want to ruin it and he said that he wasn’t going to call it anything because I seemed like the type that didn’t want to be claimed. He was right in a way and wrong in another.
As fun as playing music and cuddling and falling asleep beside him (with expressly NO FUNNY BUSINESS, thank you) was, my favorite moment was early on in the evening, and it was this:
The mac and cheese was baking in his toaster oven because some heating element in or on his stove is broken and his fridge is broken too — he’s working out of a mini fridge right now and it takes careful planning; sticking this in sideways, layering this over that, combining this thing with that other thing…
Anyways, I was peeking at a book in his living room (one on spirituality — about the ether and human radios and being able to sync thoughts with those you hold dear) when I heard him say something in the kitchen.
We’d had leftover this and that after preparing the mac (some sliced mushrooms, a few stalks of broccoli, a cup or so of plain noodles) and when I walked, barefoot, back into the kitchen, I realized he’d mixed it all together in a pot, pouring old spaghetti sauce from the tiny fridge on top. “I’ve made another meal!” he said, smiling, and that — that was it.
My mom just messaged me: “Gram has asked me twice this morn why it is that you are sad. So why are you sad?”
Me: Omg. Give me twenty mins 🙂
Mom (aka Sierra): I guess she saw your post on FB.
So without any further editing, here you go, Sierra and Gram and Sherry and Hiro (my old rabbit pal) and everyone else wondering why…