Want to Get Out of a Depressive Funk?

Pick a card. Imagine each of the following as a card, pick one, and move toward it: courage; mastery; discipline; desire; productivity; acceptance; laughter; imagination; assertion; reason; beauty; silence; hope; organization; truth; efficiency; meaning; wholeness; love; justice; travel; home.

In other words, take the smallest step—or make the smallest conscious gesture—in the direction of one of these things. In a cosmos suffused with machines, anxiety, alienation, anonymity, pain, and death, they’re really the only sources of light we’ve got.

Your yoga instructor was right. It’s sometimes said by yoga instructors that if you straighten out one thing in your posture or pose, other things will start to straighten out as well.

In like manner, straighten out your life by doing a small thing in a desirable direction. It could be no more than making yourself tea and actually noticing the cup you place it in. You might put on a favorite song and dance to it. Or find a protest somewhere nearby and join it for the day (or start your own protest). Perhaps you might brainstorm for an hour about a small business you would like to start, or decide to get at the truth of a matter.

It’s okay not to pick a card. These suggestions might, in their cumulative effect, feel too busy. If so, recall that it’s not just a matter of doing something to get “de-funked,” it might be a matter of doing nothing; of not responding to the latest dog whistle, but resting at home with Being (or just being). Living with the discomforts of your unwanted feelings and thoughts, treating them as passing clouds that you watch come and go, is also a way of dealing with them. Think of the 60s protest slogan, “What if they gave a war and nobody came?” That might unclench your inner fist a bit. Or the poet Allen Ginsberg’s admonition: “It’s never too late to do nothing at all.”

Thomas Aquinas was also right. The medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas famously said that one’s habits become one’s habitus (habitation), and if that resonates with you, take a step toward a new habit now. Where do you want to live; what do you want to inhabit? However large or small your gesture toward this new habitation, do it in full consciousness that what you are doing is a decisive movement toward it (toward beauty, meaning, truth, productivity, love, imagination, justice, hope, wholeness, assertion, courage, organization, mastery, laughter, discipline, reason, efficiency, travel, silence, acceptance, or home–however you define home).

See what happens inside of you when you move toward one of these things–toward the place you want to live. If you want to live in the kingdom of organization or love or mastery–or whatever–go on and do it now. Here endeth this little sermon to the soul–yours and mine. That’s all I wanted to say.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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One Response to Want to Get Out of a Depressive Funk?

  1. Anonymous says:

    Lovely. Thank you.

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