Sometimes something happens to you — something that, depending on your predilections, may be considered the result of happenstance or Providence or some source in between — that acts upon you in a manner and at a time that is precisely what you needed, though you may not have realized it beforehand.
The truth is that over the past few months I have allowed myself to fall into a state of relative depression. I wouldn’t need to say so if I had been better about updating this blog, but of course among the many symptoms of emotional downturn is a lack of motivation to do anything but the most necessary tasks plus whatever few things bring some measure of joy. Of course, eventually even those become difficult to countenance, but my condition is nowhere near those clinical depths. I don’t mean to cause alarm… I’m not in danger, and I feel as if I am approaching my old self, not that he was ever particularly upbeat; one mustn’t expect miracles.
I have taken some risks (and these I don’t regret in the slightest) and I have made some definite mistakes (which I do, despite their educational value), and presently find myself in a condition I certainly did not foresee. I allowed myself to become despondent about my errors and failings and the resultant state, and somewhat hopeless about the future. It’s really almost despicable, in truth, for someone who objectively has so much, to become so down. I have always prided myself on a clear sense of perspective, of viewing the world with proper balance, but nonetheless allowed myself to lose sight of the actual severity of my state, comparing it to the spoiled and extravagant life I led for some years past and neglecting to consider what genuine poverty actually looks and feels like.
As I sat in a Starbucks today, sipping a coffee and enjoying a slice of cake, I struck up a conversation with a man who had come in from the heat and sat down without buying anything. This is something I have no problem with, and frankly, the employees didn’t either. As we spoke, I told him what I was doing, and he told me about himself, that he was from Bethlehem, had been working in a deli in North Carolina for a couple of years and then came to Washington in the hopes of being able to find work more relevant to his experience as a builder. That he wasn’t able to is sadly not much of a surprise. After talking for a half hour I asked if he was hungry, and offered to buy him something from the food case, which he was, and I did.
It was a necessary reminder that there remain many many thousands of people in situations infinitely more dire than my own. I worry about the job market while sitting on a degree from a top 20 college. I whine about my financial condition but have access to resources that billions of people would be ecstatic over. I needed a dose of perspective and I got it. I’m not suddenly a ray of sunshine singing about how everything is awesome, but I certainly realized how absurd my depression has been. So the hell with it, I’m putting it away. I’m sure I’ll still whine and moan about a lot of things, but I’m done with being mopey about myself, and hopefully this time the lesson will stick.