February 22, 2011

When Inspiration Leaves…7 Things I Don’t Recommend Doing.

Lately, I’ve been depressed. Not badly depressed, but beat.

Difficulty breathing, living, being happy. I’m sad all the time.

Usually my work is, for me, the same thing as my Buddhist path, or just about—it’s self-cutting, I’m always learning, inspired—but even work, lately, has felt like a heavy weight. I’m a sad boy.

But work is relentless—the emails pile up, unhappy authors have sharp questions, new writers have confused questions, I have meetings re conferences and my dog wants to get out and walk and run around. My mortgage comes around quickly, and I’m sleeping on couch cushions in my own, half empty home.

So how do I find inspiration?

1. Read inspirational quotes

2. Push through; Force myself to get with it

3. Exercise more

4. Focus on work to exclusion of all else

5. Vacation—get away

6. Drink more, party, find some joy.

7. Eat too much (pizza, ice cream) / don’t eat anything

All this conventional stuff is fine, and some of it might help quite a lot (like exercise).

But I don’t personally, particularly recommend any of the above.

My Buddhist training tells me to deal with the underlying emotions and confusion, first. So I practice meditation, more. I give up on work, instead of forcing myself to do it, if only for an hour or two, and get out in the sun with my dog. I take a bath. And another bath. I see community at a cafe, where I work day after day, and they lift and open me up a bit. If I’m lucky, I find a good friend who speaks hard loving truths and I cry on his or her shoulder. I haven’t been so lucky, yet, but like a lake welling up against a brittle dam, I can feel it coming.

So, yes, I’m writing this for myself, from a place of depression or sadness. But this isn’t about self-pity. That doesn’t help. It’s about finding a way to go on, and do work, when work is impatient and yet you or I don’t have the drive or joy to hit the tennis ball back.

PS: this isn’t a cry for sympathy.

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