My current situation these last four months is trying to brave through the book “Furiously Happy” by Jenny Lawson. A doctor loaned it to me. Said it reminded me of her. Today, I reluctantly opened it again. I’m mid-sigh in the agony of consuming it when my Buddhist friend saunters up to me at the coffee shop and asks “What book ya reading today?” I eye roll, lift the cover, and glare at the remark I know is coming “Still?!”
“Shut up, Great-Discoverer-Of-The-Obvious. Sit down. Distract me. Enlighten me with your wisdom, Oh Teacher.”
Books often stir a love/hate relationship in me. Typically, they are the books written by those who have suffered from mental illness. Interestingly enough, I have suffered. Rudely enough, I will suffer again. That’s just reality. When you argue with reality, one of my favorite authors Byron Katie says, “You lose – but only 100% of the time.” I found out I’m not a fan of losing. So, I choose not to argue.
Instead, I gather and blow up rafts to bring with me to the next attempted drowning, that is suffering. Rafts, like words in these books I hate/love. I search. I dig. I grumble. I abandon the search when I’m good and sore. Resting for days that turn into weeks, until I catch a glance of its obnoxious, sparkling gold cover sporting a crazy raccoon, and give into the job once again. Nobody ever promised raft acquisition would be easy. I know the dirt under my fingernails from searching can be cleaned. My lungs can be reinflated after expelling all their air into the oddly intoxifying scent of a raft’s synthetic, rubberized plastic. Flotation devices, however, rarely just fall into your lap.
He plops down onto the coffee bean colored wicker chair next to me. I close the book as we engage in a conversation about the 54,000 negative emotions we experience as humans. The antidote to them, he explains, is learning to sit with them, one at a time, until they no longer hurt you. Sitting with them takes away their power over you. When you have sat with all of them for long enough, you reach enlightenment. Hello, life raft.
An interesting thing about rafts is their magnetism to each other. You ever watch them float in a pool? They start out at opposite ends, and eventually, the gentle instability of the water, coaxes them towards each other. They rub against one another until they’re plucked up.
Mind rafts are similar. This Buddhist raft, rubbed up against the raft that was sitting on the next page I was going to turn in this damn book. Lucky for me, I didn’t turn the page before I acquired the Buddhist raft. I have a feeling, I might have otherwise missed it:
“I can’t even tell myself why I am this way. I just know that it’s how I’m made… and maybe one day someone will crack open this head of mine and find out what’s wrong in there… and also what is right.
Because it’s both.
Without the dark their isn’t light. Without the pain there is no relief. And I remind myself that I’m lucky to be able to feel such great sorrow, and also such great happiness. I can grab on to each moment of joy and live in those moments because I have seen the bright contrast from dark to light and back again. I am privileged to be able to recognize that the sound of laughter is a blessing and a song, and to realize that the bright hours spent with my family and friends are extraordinary treasures to be saved, because those moments are medicine, a balm. Those moments are a promise that life is worth fighting for, and that promise is what pulls me through when depression distorts reality and tries to convince me otherwise.
Maybe the scales that weigh everyone else’s emotions don’t work for me. Maybe my scales are greater. Or less. Maybe instead of a scale I’ve wandered off to one of those nowhere places where you wait. And maybe one day I’ll be found, and someone will explain to me why I am the way I am.
Or maybe not.
After all, some stories aren’t meant to be told.”
And still, I have yet to feel inclined to recommend this book.
It’s driving me absolutely mad.