Posted by: Jack Hope | Monday March 19, 2012

Letter from the Lake

Dear Terry,

I walked down to the lake today. I don’t quite know what prompted it but I came down. First time ever which is silly when I think of how many months I’ve lived here. The weather really reflected my mood when I left the apartment:  Overcast, spitting rain, even a little sleet and cold winds.  The park is downhill from where I live, so it’s an easy path to take. But once I got there it was even worse, the wind had picked up and the clouds were growing darker and darker.

I love the year round green of this part I the world but it doesn’t extend to every nook and cranny. And this was not what I needed today that’s for sure.

Its funny but when I first started thinking about writing down my recovery experience I was so full of ideas. I’ve scribbled tonnes of notes and written quite a bit of material to prepare myself for doing this blog. It was all about the things that helped me, strategies to try, things to do.

But you know what?  When I actually started putting it all together and writing these first few letters to you, I realized that I feel lousy right now. I’ve backslid a bit from the happy place I was in before. And now the days are gliding by and I wonder if I’m going backwards.

It scares the hell out of me. 

I can’t go back. I won’t go back.

No matter what it takes, no matter what it costs. Depression is living death. It takes you apart a piece at a time, corrodes and consumes every bit of you.  I will not live like like that.

Because that’s not living.

The weather seemed to change though.  The sun began to break through the clouds. At first blush, all it does is further illuminate the unpleasant landscape that I have discovered on my walk to the lake.

The landscape down around the lake does look quite dead but it’s interesting: When I looked closer as I walked down the path I noticed these green shoots in all the dead grass.

When I stop to pay attention, I can see the slow halting steps of new life.  It doesn’t look like it, but spring is happening below the surface.

It’s just starting to break through.

You can’t see it unless you look closely. But its there and its happening even if you can’t always see it.

I walked further down towards the lake and the rain ended and the sun came out, as it is wont to do.  I have to admit, I was really surprised when I saw the rainbow over the lake.  I couldn’t remember the last time I had seen one.  I had a vague childhood memory of seeing one from the field of my elementary school but I can’t remember having seen one as an adult.  Which is silly, because I am sure I have.  I suppose none of them have made an impact on me in a very long time.

What was even more amazing about it though was that as I walked farther along, I saw that I could see the full arc of the rainbow.  That’s something I know I haven’t seen all that often.  It was pretty amazing how it seemed to lift my spirits.  I know why the ancients might have thought of the rainbow as a representation of divine power.  They are a spectacular natural phenomenon.

Simultaneously though all I could think about was Kermit the Frog singing  “Rainbow Connection.”

 I wanted to see more of it so I kept following the lake and I eventually came to a point where I could see virtually the entire arch.  It was inspiring.

It was also interesting how as I came down closer and closer to the lake itself, the area grew more verdant, more lush and alive. Following that rainbow eventually led me to a little clearing by the lakeside where the grass was green and new flowers were beginning to bloom.

For all the stormy weather and dead landscape earlier, there was new life just beginning. I just had to look for it.

I don’t believe in God or any kind of higher power or spiritual force. The universe simply is as it is with no need for any kind of deity. Call me a non-theist if you like. There are no signs and portents in the world, no voices in our heads but our own.

We are, for good or ill, alone inside our skulls with only our own thoughts and voices to keep us company.

 Yet I could not help but see in this a metaphor for myself and for my own experiences.

Its human nature to ascribe meaning to the world, to see symbolism and depth to the things happening around us. It’s part of how we create ourselves, how we program our brains to create the person we want to be. We tell ourselves a story, assign ourselves a role and then pull in everything around us to form the narrative we call our life.

So I will try to be brave, I will try to accept that what I am going through right now is a passing storm on the way to healing.  That my journey to recovery is not yet over, nor has it been derailed.   I will try to hold back the fear, as long as I can, in the hopes that I can cross to the other side in this battle.

When I started climbing the hill again, leaving behind the rainbow, the little clearing, the green shoots of life, the storm was rolling back in again.  Uphill, in the storm.  That’s still where I am at.

But maybe the worst of the storms are over.

I hope they are. I miss you very much.

Love Always,

Jack

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