Thursday, February 12, 2009

And it huffed and it puffed and...my hope didn't help.

This morning as I sat here watching pieces of my house blow away amid near-hurricane force gusts, hoping the winds would be merciful, I read something that stopped me in my tracks.

Understand that over the years since 2003, when I signed to write SHAM, I've read probably millions of words about hope, PMA, the will to win, etc. I've read them from top gurus, I've heard them on Oprah, I've seen them codified in "formal" programs-for-daily-living like those posed in The Secret or Your Best Life Now. I've also expended hundreds of thousands of words, counting the book and the blog and the radio/TV I've done, trying to debunk the curious notion that hope is its own reward.*

Which brings us to this morning, and a line from an obituary I read in my local paper, the Morning Call. The line consisted of 15 words. And I realized that those 15 words said it all. The words are as follows:

Although she lost the fight against cancer, she never lost hope that she could win.
Little that I've read so perfectly embodies the absurdity and fundamental silliness of today's Culture of Hope. I ask you: What do those 15 words even mean?

For the record, technically, here is how the line should have read:
Although she hoped she could win the fight against cancer, she died anyway.
Yes, I realize that no one would actually write that, least of all in an obituary. Obits exist for the living, who are supposed to draw comfort from them. So let's talk about that. How much comfort can "those who live on" find in a hollow line that, if you think about it, depreciates the value of hope and, some could argue, makes a mockery of everything that genuine human striving is about? Yes, she's dead, poor soul...but don't worry, she never lost hope! As if that would've been the bigger tragedy than death itself.

Personally, I would never want anyone to write that about me. I would not want people remembering an image of me with my head in the clouds (or sand), talking excitedly about my plans to attend this year's World Series, when they knew I was living on borrowed time as it is. I've already written about the way we deceived my father
flat-out lied to the man about his prognosis; I've written about how my sisters and I sat there exchanging uncomfortable glances as Dad spoke about what he wanted to do "when I come home." He wasn't coming home, and he, of all people, was the only one who didn't know it. And I'll tell you something else: Had he known, he wouldn't have been in that hospital in the first place. Dad always had stuff to do. Always. If he'd had any say in it, he wouldn't have chosen to spend his final days and weeks in a cancer ward, connected to plastic tubing, talking foolishly about baseballs he and his son would never get to throw to each other.

Getting back to the obit, I could see if they said she never lost her spirit, her joie de vivre. I could see if they said she smiled to the very end.
(She is a pretty woman with an inviting smile, a smile that suggests you'd like her if you knew her. There's a pic with the obit.) I could even see, maybe, if they left out the part about how she still thought she "could win"
if they stopped the quote at hope. I just can't see wording it as they did.

You say I'm "overthinking it"? No. I'm just thinking it. Because this isn't an isolated case. Even if this was a mere instance of careless wording, the implications are far-reaching.

Don't get me wrong. Hope is good. I like hope; I use a lot of it myself. But there's difference between hope and hallucination. And when we pretend that hope itself is the be-all-and-end-all of living
even if we're pretending "for a good cause"we devalue and disincentivize the activities, attitudes and behaviors that are more likely to result in the good things we want to happen.

Hope didn't prevent Oprah from getting fat again. Hope didn't prevent this pretty young woman with a sweet-looking smile from dying. Hope won't keep pieces of my house from continuing to disappear into the evening skies. Hope, in most cases and settings, is just hope, as wispy and fragile as whatever is (or isn't) holding the remaining shingles to my roof. Nothing more and nothing less.

* There are some purely emotional realms where this may be true. But that is a very different scenario from the way hope is now packaged for mainstream consumptions.

30 comments:

Dimension Skipper said...

Normally I might have been right there with you on this one, Steve, as far as abstract and merely intellectual terms. I understand the point you're making. However...

A cousin's wife just late this afternoon got the official word that she has about six months or so to live due to liver cancer. All the Doctors can do is give her chemo and try to keep her around a little longer than if she got no treatment at all.

She's 60. Their three girls are to be 17, 20, and 23 over the course of this summer. Their twin grandkids (by their oldest daughter) just turned two in January. It appears extremely unlikely she will see them turn three.

And the thing is that she has been suffering from depression. One can, I think, look at depression (in very simple terms) as a loss of hope. Or at least that could be considered one symptom or one way of looking at it.

Another cousin confided in me tonight that very recently, as diagnosis was ongoing (but they knew it was bad), she said flat out to "Be careful what you wish for, because I even prayed that, Lord, if you want to take me with cancer, go ahead." She had no hope. Of course, by the time of her praying that, I'm pretty sure she already "knew" her situation, but still...

If she hadn't been depressed, it's very likely she would have sought medical help long ago instead of neglecting the condition. Depression/lack of hope can, quite literally, kill.

Obviously there is much more to the situation as far as family dynamics, reasons for the depression, possible treatments for the depression, as well as the opportunity to pose questions as to why no one else either noticed the situation or more forcefully urged her to seek medical help long ago. It's not my place to try to delve into any of that here in a mere blog comment and I won't. Besides, that's all kind of irrelevant right now (except as a cautionary tale for others) for there will be more immediate issues to which to attend.

Anyway, if this woman you speak of maintained her own hope for as long as possible (and honestly, even if she didn't), I'm not going to begrudge her family portraying things the way they did. They can fudge it or sugarcoat it however they want as far as I'm concerned if it in any way helps them deal.

Again, I do understand what you're saying, but I just can't say I agree right at this time. It hits too close to home. There is nothing more intimate and personal than one's death or the death of someone close, no matter the circumstances.

I will not criticize the phrasing of an obit. I understand that this is how such things are done and I would be willing to go along with it for the family's sake. Even if I thought it, I would simply hold my tongue. I'm sure they have quite enough on their plate trying to really, really comprehend matters. There are enough things to criticize people for in life, but for me this is not one of them. And certainly not now.

Sorry. I know you don't mean anything personal by it and I'm not accusing you of anything or saying you're a bad person because I don't think you are. And I realize it's not like you're in line at the funeral home waiting to pay respects and stating all this. But now is a very bad time for me personally to have read this post.

I hope you'll understand and forgive me when I say that it might cross a line (even if only my own) into a little bit of poor taste. There are all sorts of opportunities to use to illustrate SHAMbloggy points. I'm not sure this should be one of them. Certainly not one of the better ones imo, but obviously it's your blog.

I'll abstain from any further comment on this one.

Chad Hogg said...

I'm not sure I get it. Surely you can hope for something while understanding that the likelihood of it occurring is quite low and without thinking that your hope will somehow cause what you hope for to come to pass. To hope is to be human.

Steve Salerno said...

Chad, DS: I know I'm a voice in the wilderness on these topics--and in saying that, I'm not presuming to claim for myself any cachet or status as some kind of misunderstood visionary who's "way ahead of his time." I'm simply stating fact: Even the folks who generally agree with me about SHAM-related topics part company with me when it comes to posts like this one. Pretty much as DS begins his comment here.

I took a lot of heat for my critical remarks about Vanessa Redgrave's high-profile ad ("I'm not going to die of breast cancer..."), and I anticipated similar reactions in this case. I wrote this post for two reasons. One is the paradox (or maybe irony is the better word) of the line in the obituary: she continued hoping she would beat it right till the moment she died. The other reason for writing a post like this is more to the point Barbara Ehrenreich made in her watershed essay for Harper's, which I believe was titled "Pathologies of Hope." We've come to a juncture in this country where you simply cannot take a stand against hope--even if you can prove that the hope itself is what prevents from achieving what you hope for. Now, I'm not saying that was the case with the poor lady described in the obit. I am quite pointedly saying that for many people in today's culture, hope is self-destructive*, and for all the reasons I've tried to enumerate at great length in the blog. It used to be that hope was the precursor to a plan of action; today hope is the plan. Drunk on the belief that a positive attitude alone carries the day, people get lazy and stupid and fail to do their due diligence. It is late and I am very tired and I don't want to have to write a brand-new essay here. If you like, I can refer you to my previous published writings on this and related topics.

I do appreciate your viewpoints, and look, as I said above, I won't deny that most people feel the way you do.

* at least, hope as it's packaged nowadays--as a complete metaphysical system that is supposedly self-fulfilling.

Chad Hogg said...

There may be people who take hope to be a "complete metaphysical system that is supposedly self-fulfilling", but that does not diminish the word's original meaning which, to me, is essentially that the person still cares what happens.

Steven Sashen said...

I love coincidental moments, like this post arriving after my hot tub soak where I was thinking that the Bene Gesserit in Dune weren't quite right; HOPE is the mind-killer.

I see it in "spiritual" seekers, who continue to hold onto the hope of attaining an imagined state of immunity to human ills, even when the teachers (the good ones, at least) suggest that this particular hope is the actual cause of the suffering, not the ills themselves.

This post reminded me of John McCain's comment that what helped him survive his POW ordeal was giving up hope, giving up on thoughts like "We'll be out of here by Christmas," because he saw in his fellow POWs that when Christmas came and went, the dashing of those hopes was worse than the day-to-day situation.

Rational Thinking said...

Hope, as in optimism, isn't "magical thinking". Looking on the bright side, in the face of death, isn't necessarily a bad thing, is it? We all know we're going to die one day, but in the meantime what's wrong with hoping for the best? Or putting a brave face on it? Surely it's up to the individual concerned.

I agreed with you on the Redgrave ad, which seemed to me to suggest you can simply "refuse" to die of a particular disease and choose to die of something else instead at some later date. But I think this is rather different.

Steve Salerno said...

Chad: Again, I agree with you that hope (in its original meaning) is important in life--and yet, how I wish I could remember the name of the ballplayer who said he was only able to compete at a superior level once he "stopped caring" whether he was successful or not. I'm thinking Phillies closer Brad Lidge? (I know, it's just one person, but it struck me so funny when I heard it.) I remember jazzman Ornette Coleman, too, saying something about that--that he was able to take his playing to another level when he stopping giving a damn about whether anyone ever listened to him. Again, not quite the same thing, but intriguing.

Anonymous said...

Seven years ago, I came down with a wicked disease of unknown origin which had me in a hospital for seven weeks. I was discharged, tethered to a feeding tube, and I had accepted my fate. I had no hope of a "miracle cure". The doctors were out of ideas other than "it-sure-sucks-to-be-me".

But I got better due to a SWAG (sophisticated wild-assed guess) by a doctor who was really grasping at straws and I underwent a very unconventional treatment.

If hope pulled me through - it wasn't on my part - maybe my patents had hope; but not me. I was ready to die, and at peace with the world. I wasn't praying for a cure - I had no fight left in me. Maybe my mom had her prayers answered - I don't know what to think. But there was no known reason for me to get so sick, and no known reason for me to recover. It certainly was not hope on my part.

Elizabeth said...

I get your point, Steve, I really, really do -- but, OTOH, I think, hey, please don't dis hope! I'm stashing mine as best I can before my Tuesday's brain surgery, which will determine whether my tumor is benign or cancerous. Hope is not much and sometimes it is totally delusional (and on occasion harmful, yes), but there are times when it's the only thing that gets us through really tough times.

BTW, I'm writing it from home now -- I checked myself out AMA after I realized that they put me in a cancer ward (yes) and sent a social worker to discuss the advanced directives (aka living will) with me. I've decided it's too soon -- hell, yeah. On Wednesday next week, maybe I won't have these objections; but this weekend, I'm staying home -- still hopeful and defiant (the latter somewhat moronic, I admit, LOL -- or perhaps drug-induced, not sure :).

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth,
I abandoned hope for myself a long time ago but I'm rooting for you with hope and defiance.
Don't be swayed by others opinions, you know yourself better than anyone--do whatever gets you through this and I'm hoping and praying for everything you wish for yourself.
Chin up, girl.

Steven Sashen said...

This is a fascinating discussion that seems to be about this common logical fallacy: The lack or negation of of something equals its opposite.

In this case:

Hope = a good thing.

Therefore, Lack of Hope = a bad thing.

But that equation is false.

Hope may be a good thing, but that doesn't imply anything about what the lack of hope is.

If we *imagine* it to be bad (as pointed out, not everyone sees it that way), then we then get an unpleasant feeling, then we then use that unpleasant feeling to validate the imagined badness ("It MUST be bad, because otherwise why would I feel like this when I think about it!").

But the unpleasant feeling is just because we imagined something unpleasant, not any sort of confirmation of the original premise.

RevRon's Rants said...

Steve, perhaps you wouldn't feel so frustrated if you considered that "hope" might not necessarily be confined to life as we know it. Stuff's going to happen; some of it good, and others, not so good. I'm pretty much enjoying living, but know that I'm going to die. Just don't know the exact how or when of it. The hope I feel isn't tied to staying alive in this body, so the ending of this life doesn't have much influence upon how hopeful I might be. Perhaps the pretty lady felt the same way.

It's not about feeling certain of some heavenly reward, which I have done nothing to deserve, and don't buy into anyway. To me, a heavenly reward - or an eternity in the fiery pits - are elements of false hope or fear,m depending upon how you look at it. It's more about being comfortable that things will happen as they should, wholly independent of my understanding or approval.

Perhaps an appropriate epitaph for me would read something like, "He was a real a**hole sometimes, and a nice guy other times. But he's dead now, so let's have another round." Sounds about right.

Jen said...

Elizabeth, maybe that's the answer, hope plus defiance! I think you might be on to something here. :)

In all of this I keep thinking about George Carlin's routine on hope, which you can quickly find by searching YouTube. In his usual straightforward fashion, he very clearly spells out his philosophy of hope. And it very nearly matches the attitude Steve was talking about when he said how Ornette Coleman took his playing to a new level when he stopped giving a damn.

And it is similar to the attitude I would like to cultivate, if only I could drop the silly notion of expectation of desired outcomes.

Is it possible to really stop caring about what happens? Sometimes it just seems like bravado to say that. "I don't care," when really deep down inside you do care, you do want to get better, get the job, find the cure.

Okay, so I am still clinging to hope with fierce defiance!

Elizabeth said...

P.S. Steve, so you read obituaries...? Don't tell me you too started as a child (oh, I have stories to tell -- or write perhaps -- about that, yes, I do :).

DimSkip, I'm sorry to hear about your cousin's wife (Dan's?). That is really awful.

I do agree with you that depression is a lack of hope and that, yes, it can kill. Though I also see how Steve (or anyone) can be dismayed with the "hope-y" empty phrasing, which somehow denies our reality and may even feel insulting at times.

But, I think, this is one of those "to each his own" things: what may be too sugary and denialist for one person, may be just right for another. I think of the two extremes, a complete lack of hope can be/is more devastating than a complete and insane hopefulness. (I should add that personally I'm prone to the former.)

Steve Salerno said...

Steven: Well put.

Elizabeth said...

Dear Anon, thank you so much. But what do you mean, you abandoned hope for yourself...? I dread thinking that. For you, or anyone. Really.

Steve Salerno said...

Jen: I'm not proposing "not giving a damn" as a program for successful living. I am saying that in certain realms--the arts being one of them (or a conglomerate of them)--not giving a damn sometimes allows you to find your own voice without the distraction of constantly second-guessing your own performance and comparing it to "the norm." I am quite a student of jazz, and I could cite many, many examples of artists who found their voices only after reaching that point where they basically say, to themselves, "Screw it. I'm just gonna do what I wanna do, and if somebody else wants to listen, fine. If not, f**k 'em." And what happens, of course, is that their audience finds them.

I can also tell you that in baseball, there is absolutely such a thing as hoping/caring way too much, and it absolutely can play havoc with your performance.

But in the end I think I have to come back to Steven's savvy observation: We don't really know the degree to which hope (or the lack of hope) is linked to achievement (or the lack of achievement), and clearly the mechanism of all this works very differently in different people; you may need what you call "hope" to get you through the day. I may function better when I approach the world with a cynical, this'll-probably-never-work outlook. And it may even differ from day to day in the same person. So when something is that nebulous and mercurial, what is the point of even talking about it as if it were a tangible commodity with predictable results?

And I think that, more than anything else, is what drives me nuts about the all-you-gotta-do-is-hope crowd: They make it sound like taking two or three Excedrin, where you pop the pills and 45 minutes later your headache is magically gone (but you can't sleep for three days). That conception of hope is sheer lunacy. And yet it's surreal how many of us buy in!

Dimension Skipper said...

Eliz: No, not Dan's wife, but wife of Dan's wife's brother (if you can follow that).

I too tend (even more so lately) toward the less hope end of the spectrum. I've always kind of been wired that way to begin with. And yet I envy those who seem to inherently have hope more often than not.

But I will muster as much positivity as I can and be thinking of you tuesday, Eliz, hoping that your own situation turns out as well as possible. Once again, please let us know when you can.

And I just want to add... Thanks for even sharing about your situation in the first place. I'm sure it wasn't easy to decide whether or not to say anything, but I'm glad you did. Helps us remember that in all these abstract discussions there's an undercurrent of humanity always present.

Anonymous said...

' you abandoned hope for yourself...? I dread thinking that. For you, or anyone. Really.'

For me it is a liberation, and it is more about a personal honesty than the nebulous abstraction 'hope.'
As Jen says, I don't bother with too much attachment to hoped for/expected outcomes but when I deeply care about something, that something gets 100% commitment from every resource I have and anyone elses resource that I can beg, borrow or steal--I just leave the outcome to its own devices.

*When* is the *outcome*, after all?
It ain't over til it's over.

This works for me, I don't advocate it for anyone else.

Rational Thinking said...

Steve I agree with you about "all you gotta do is hope" - that's simply not true, but sometimes all you CAN do is hope, once all the practical actions have been taken. For me, to hope is to acknowledge there may exist possibilities which aren't currently apparent.

And Elizabeth, my very best wishes.

Dimension Skipper said...

OK, I didn't plan on commenting further on this post as far as the overall theme, but something just occurred to me this morning...

I get the impression that some folks discuss "hope" and tend to mean that perky pie-in-the-sky (what does that expression even mean btw?) everything's-gonna-be-all-right bullflop kind of hope that often is just (imo) someone trying to convince themselves of something. (Which is what I feel the obituary line was all about in the first place with regards to the grieving family with maybe even little to no actual pertinence to the person who died, but that's just speculation on my part and I could easily be wrong. Maybe the deceased wrote her own obit, I don't know.)

Or perhaps by "hope" folks mean the annoying casual perkiness kind of hope constantly expressed by the insufferably cheerful dreamers that everything always works out for the best no matter what.

However, when I say "hope" I'm mostly talking about it in the inner known-only-to-the-person sense. Someone might not be always chipper, but still have a fulfilling reason or two to get up in the morning and do the myriad mundane things which constantly need to be done and re-done and re-done yet again over and over in life. To me when that's gone (and maybe you're literally just going through the motions trying to find it again), that's when you've lost hope. One can be a somewhat downcast person and face struggles realistically, yet still not have lost all hope in life.

There's a difference between the casually perky people cheerfully spouting motivationalisms while being upbeat about everything and those who go through life with a less outwardly cheerful attitude, but still have just as much hope and goals for life.

I think losing that perky kind of hope would probably leave at least some folks better off. Losing that true inner reason-to-live hope is NEVER a good thing.

If people find some sense of hope in their family and friends, some promise of an afterlife, or just the thought that a Supreme Entity is somehow in control of things as part of a Grand Design all leading to a Greater Purpose, I'm not gonna try to tell them they're wrong (well, not so long as they aren't really overzealous in trying to convince me they're right).

Bottom line, I guess, is that to me there's "HOPE!" and then there's simply "hope." Folks can do without the former (and perhaps should), but with any luck should never lose the latter.

Personally, I've always been more the "Every silver lining is hidden by a cloud" kind of guy. I tend to identify more with Geoff than Eva in this "ad" for Despondex.

Dimension Skipper said...

Sorry, let's try that last paragraph again, this time WITH the link actually inserted...

Personally, I've always been more "the every silver lining is hidden by a cloud" kind of guy. I tend to identify more with Geoff than Eva in this "ad" for Despondex.

Steve Salerno said...

DS: I thnk that's very well put, and probably the best and most accessible description of the differing ways in which hope/HOPE is viewed...but it leaves us with the problem of attempting to make distinctions about gradations of hope/HOPE that are impossible to make in real life. One person's hope will be another person's HOPE, and vice versa. And that's why I recoil from programs that sell the idea that "you gotta have hope!" Which hope are they talking about? How much is just right, and how much is too much? You start out with this grand philosophical/humanistic concept, and you end up with something like the 3 bears....

As I've said of self-help programs generally, they trade in areas of human outlook and behavior that are so arbitrary and highly individualized that it's impossible to fashion an associated "7-step program" that has relevance to any specific person, let alone the millions of diverse people who read the book!

RevRon's Rants said...

Pragmatic curmudgeon that I am, I find myself frequently wanting to slap folks who are always giddy and upbeat. It's not that I think it impossible for someone to be wired in such a way that they always notice the silver lining in every cloud. I know a couple of people who are honestly grateful for everything life throws at them, and to be truthful, I kind of envy them.

The ones who get under my skin are the people who constantly and loudly *proclaim* their optimism. They're the guys at the singles function whose smiles are so obviously forced that you wonder when their faces will finally crack. Or the folks who cling tightly to a projected image of imperturbable mellowness, yet are unable to hide the little flashes of anger when anything intrudes upon their calm.

For myself, I hold to the fundamental belief that everything is going to work out as it should, even as I get pissed off when things don't go as *I* think they should. I can recall times when the sadness and anger threatened to consume me, but am also aware of the times when the elation was just as clear a sign of the madness as was the rage. There has to be balance if there is to be health. Denying one's fear, anger, and sadness is no more destructive than denying one's dreams and joys. Hoping for the best is OK in my book, so long as we recognize that we might not always be best qualified to define what "best" is. Joss is joss, and our assignment of good or bad to it is as frequently wrong as it is right. For that reason, the occasional bitch-slap to the giddy seems appropriate, as does the pumping of sunshine up the patooties of the morose. And I may find myself an appropriate recipient of either at any given time.

Cosmic Connie said...

Fascinating discussion, as usual, and an eloquent post. However, in all of the ensuing discussion about hope, not a shingle mention has been made about the ultimate fate of your house, Steve. I hope (if you'll pardon the expression) that it survived the truly anomalous weather.

The next time something like this happens you might try calling upon some of those wind whisperers who work with hurricanes and other violent weather.
http://tinyurl.com/c8umfl

Granted, some of them are kind of busy with other things right now. Phoenix the Spirit Diva, for example, is currently busy leading meditations to help out with the economic crisis. Glen B. Stewart, "The Father of Hurricane Reduction," is... well, I can't say what he's doing, since most of those hurricane reduction sites of his that I linked to last September no longer seem to be on the Net. Maybe the wind blew them away. And as for Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale, who was so successful in stopping Rita in 2005 that he went back for an encore with Ike in 2008... he's sort of busy too, but I am sure that if you join his Attract Miracles Community you might be able to get some of the Miracle Attractors to focus their intentions on your house and keep it intact during violent weather.

Lacking that, maybe Wendy G. Young can help you. At the very least you can take a cue from her, and if your roof or some other big hunk of your house blows off, park your car on it so it won’t become dangerous flying debris.
http://tinyurl.com/dygbv4

You’re welcome. I’m always glad to be of assistance.

Verification word: Spine
Hmmmm....

Steve Salerno said...

Connie: My house, since you asked, is limping along, heavily bandaged but otherwise livable as it awaits its formal inspection by State Farm. I'm sure there will be some of the usual dickering, as the adjuster tries to wriggle off the hook by contending that at least some of the damage is a "workmanship defect," and therefore not State Farm's problem. But the emergency contractor I brought in to do the patch-work tells me that State Farm is much better than most about that--certainly better than "the good hands people," in this contractor's considerable experience--so I'm--dare I say it?--hopeful.

And by the way, I had no idea how costly roof repair is. Once again I realize that I'm in the wrong line of work. Of course, I tend to get that feeling whenever I encounter anyone who doesn't write for a living.

Elizabeth said...

No Valentine's Day special this year, Steve? I was so looking forward to a repeat (at least) of your last year's post...

Elizabeth said...

DimSkip, the Despondex ad is freakin' hilarious! Guys, if you have not seen it yet, do it now -- you won't regret it.

Now: I agree with DimSkip's distinction between hope and HOPE! of the pie-in-the-sky thing (BTW, I don't know what that means either, but it is frightening, no? Pie in the sky?? Do we really ever hope for such a thing, LOL? Perpetual solar eclipse, eternal winter, etc.?)

And I think Anon 4:54 describes the abandonment of HOPE! (if I'm not mistaken), which can be liberating indeed.

But abandoning hope can kill us. Hopelessness is a chief symptom of depression and the most prominent factor in suicide; or it can lead to passive and deadly self-neglect where people do not seek help for conditions that are treatable when caught early.

Last but most certainly not least, thank you for your good thoughts and wishes, all of which I very much appreciate.

Jen said...

Elizabeth wrote: "Hopelessness is a chief symptom of depression and the most prominent factor in suicide; or it can lead to passive and deadly self-neglect where people do not seek help for conditions that are treatable when caught early."

I've been studying today and came across a sentence that this reminded me of, Elizabeth. It's about Aaron Beck, who describes the root of depression as a negative cognitive shift in a person's thinking.

Makes ya think, doesn't it? ;)

I liked that Despondex ad, too, DimSkip, and thank you for sharing it.

Elizabeth, it is good to see you posting here and I hope (lower case) you are feeling better.

Elizabeth said...

Oh, brother, it's one of those Mondays...

This inspirational gem Recession: We're All in This Together, Part 3 from Huffington Post, also featured on the self-help news bar on SHAMblog:

I went to visit an old friend and long time teacher of mine, Eckhart Tolle, in Vancouver recently, where his talks are being recorded for webcasts called "Eckhart TV." As I listened to him speak, more than a thousand pounds of worry, anxiety, doubt, and fear, lifted off of me, allowing me to see my personal situation and the world situation from a broader, truer view -- as Eckhart Tolle's words are known to do. I realized that should I (or anyone) be required to leave my home with my family, as sad as that day might be, and as much as I love my home, we would be okay.

Something that doesn't require a location or a bank account is a deep breath. Another something that doesn't require any particular location or account balance is love for your family and partner. The same is true for creativity, for feeling connected to yourself and the world, and for feeling peace, hope, or inspiration. Change is not the end. Not to say that we should not each do everything in our power to create or preserve the best possible life situation for ourselves. Of course this is true, however, sometimes preservation is not possible.

The only differences between that moment of leaving and going...who knows where?...and this moment now, in which I am comfortable in my chair, quietly typing these words, are external. My internal condition and awareness need not change. Furniture may be being moved -- it's okay, I don't need to resist it, if resistance is futile.

Anxiety only begets more anxiety. I could let it go and remain in peace. Perhaps I would find myself walking away from my home for the last time. Could I walk away without resisting the form that moment takes? Could I let it go and remain in peace? That future moment of change doesn't have to be any different from this moment of sameness.

The important questions are: what is happening in my awareness? Am I okay in this moment? Yes. Always yes. It is my hope that my friends who have faded into our economic recession may also realize this eternal truth. It is my hope that we can all hold onto our peace in the midst of these profound changes, because it's from peace that creativity and inspiration arise. And from creativity and inspiration, newness blossoms. And after all, sometimes peace is all you can keep. So why not keep it?


Dontcha just love that comfy middle class spirituality? (LOL)

See, it is the kind of crap that has the veneer of calm enlightenment and, ahem, wisdom, but really has to do with soothing the worries of the well-to-do. Yes, she can bang on about inner peace and what-have-ya from her comfy chair in front of her computer (while, I not so charitably suspect, her husband is out there working his butt off to make sure she has that chair and that computer) and wax philosophical about stoicism in the face of change. And it's all, like, totally awesome and deep, dude!

Yet she seems 1. not to have a clue, and/or 2. to have fallen a willing victim to Eckhart's (brr...) soothing psychobabble.

Because how can she say this:

Furniture may be being moved -- it's okay, I don't need to resist it, if resistance is futile.

I wanna say to her, girl, this is not about furniture being moved, you know? Losing one's home, life savings and any job prospects is the stuff of suicides, among other things. If your furniture being moved is your greatest worry, then I'd say you are in a good place in life indeed. It's a damn shame you waste your time worrying about it at all, but I guess one has to write something for that HuffPo column.

Oh, and, you know, sometimes change is the end. Really. You'd see it if you opened your eyes to reality rather than keeping them closed while being hypnotized by your Tolle friend. But I guess that kind of hypnosis is all you need -- all some of us need, for, as you say:

The important questions are: what is happening in my awareness? Am I okay in this moment? Yes. Always yes.

Why, of course those are the most important questions. The world starts and ends in your awareness and centers on the ever-important matter of your personal well-being. Yep.

It is my hope that my friends who have faded into our economic recession may also realize this eternal truth.

Really. If only they could realize that, damn their devastating loses from which many will never recover, damn other real life calamities that befall people left and right, they should be asking the real important question: what's happening in YOUR awareness? And are YOU okay in this moment?

Thank goodness the answer is yes. Always yes. ;)

P.S. Thank you, Jen. :)