Monday, January 29, 2018

A Few Thoughts On The Most Depressing Day Of The Year

It may not be official, but I am now calling the last Monday in January "The Most Depressing Day Of The Year." Well, at least in the northern hemisphere.

On this day I am feeling very tired and sick at heart. Some of this is personal, some of it is political, and some of it is the intersection of the personal and political, like my shitty New Jersey Transit commute. Sometimes when I get down I try to cheer myself up by watching old music videos and favorite sit-coms from my youth. Other days I steer into the depression and let it ride, and today is one of those days.

As I sat in my grimy New Jersey Transit train today I was reading a book about the memory of the World War I in Great Britain. The author talked about how some of the battlefield monuments eschewed Christian imagery, mirroring how the war had shattered the faith of so many of its participants. While some may have sought a comforting narrative of redemption and heaven's reward, others could never believe in a God that would allow such senseless slaughter to occur.

For some reason, at the very moment I was reading that passage, a memory popped into my head. I remembered a road trip I took to from Omaha to Chicago during my senior year of high school. We left on a golden Saturday morning, and after my friend got into the car, I read aloud Carl Sandburg's poem "Chicago" to inaugurate our journey.

That memory suddenly made me extremely sad. The kind of person who did dorky, romantic, spontaneous things like that is dead. Life has made me harder, more cynical, and far less trusting. It's not a matter of wanting to restore that person, there really is no way to go back.

Then I remembered that there are places when the spirit of that person lives on, even though he is dead. In the classroom I am willing to put myself out there and be vulnerable and dorky, but not outside of the walls of that classroom when I am out of my house. I also remembered my children brought that out of me too. When my daughters got home today, about ten minutes after I arrived, I swept them up and smiled. I talked with them about their day and had one of my daughters read a book to me. She also insisted on talking in a robot voice. I played along, she laughed. On days like this such silly games are therapy.

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