Day 2 August 26, 2008
Technology attempted to waylay my decision to write today, the computer restarted three times before it decided to stay on. My morning reading has focused my mind on writing and depression as well as how these two things are inseparable for me. My drive to understand my depression is a drive to understand my self. Thoughts are far too ephemeral and easily forgotten and thus do not suite me in this search. And so I must chronicle my strains so I may look back and say “so that is what I thought back then, does it still apply?” and “I touched on a truth their but now have a new understanding of it and can possibly verbalize it in a more meaningful way.”
Today I am a bit depressed. It is not the common “blue” feeling of life getting a little too overwhelming, nor is it the dank gray miasma of debilitating depression that saps my will to live and makes me lay down and think thoughts of melting into the floor and remaining motionless forever. Today I feel the smoldering embers of passion ready to burst into flame but afraid of what will be consumed. It is not the lack of emotion, which usually accompanies my depression, but the seething of all emotions which threatens to overwhelm me. I’ll see the ruined carcass of a raccoon in the road and start to cry. I’ll see a child spouting gibberish to his mother listening with half an ear and weep for the possibilities and hope. I imagine that I feel everything and want to tell everyone but know that I will be unable to speak. I will point and say “Look. See.” and you will say “yes, that is a dead raccoon” and “that child is annoying” and I will scream inside pleading with my mind to open up and communicate what I see. But the chemicals that interpret what I see do not know the chemicals that allow me to speak so I must observe in frustrated silence. I feel as if I am aware of all the possibilities. Possibilities and possibilities and possibilities. I have forgotten my skin at home and am bombarded by the fact that pain and beauty are intrinsically linked. Knowing that beauty has been refined by pain, tempered by sorrow, I can’t help but look at a gnarled tree, a transient wino, an immolated landscape and feel hatred, pity, and love. It’s a sort of jealousy, I suppose, as I attempt to absorb all the pain, seeking my own apocalypse so that I too may be refined, so that I too may be beautiful.
I believe that I have uncovered for you another of my flaws: a penchant for the dramatic bordering on melodrama. This insight, though, might also simply be a defensive mechanism allowing me to write off that which I feel so that I don’t truly have to engage in my emotions, which is probably just the part of me shaped by society to believe that men should do rather than feel.
Ah, but I started this out by stating that I wished to write about depression and writing. I guess this just goes to show that while these two things are linked within me, I can not always speak of them in the same breath.
I do not believe that it is possible to write an autobiography. I am not saying that it is impossible to write about one’s self, but as the self is always changing, when one recounts his own history, one is actually recounting the history of varying selves. I love telling stories of my experiences. I say “I did this”, “I said this”, or “I thought that” but it is not current Andrew that had any part but as observer and story teller. 17 year old Andrew looked at and felt things as a 17 year old. 25 year old Andrew is retelling the story with 8 years of details coloring the experience. He has forgotten some details, feels others are unimportant, and embellishes the story with details that may not have existed. There is as much fiction as non-fiction in my tales because the fallibility of the mind and the fact of growth emboss history with myth.
We all have albums of pictures of ourselves. We all look at old group photos and immediately seek ourselves out in the picture. This does not stem solely from narcissistic voyeurism: a desire to look at the past and lust after our younger bodies, fresher minds, and simpler dreams, or to take the opportunity to pat ourselves on the back saying “I was so young and stupid back then. Good job me for growing up.” I think that we are also often trying to prove our existence in this or that reality. I was a part of that team, I hiked this path when I was young, I drank that drink and hung out with those people. I digress from writing about writing to writing about pictures because in finishing “Life After God” I read of Coupland’s experience of taking a picture of and for a group of blind people who were out for a walk. His observations were of people who had faith in a sense that they did not take part in. I wonder what they will do with the photograph. They will never see it. They will never show their friends and say “There’s me. I can’t believe I thought that hairstyle was cool.” They will never sit alone and allow the photograph to conjure erstwhile sighs of the idyllic past. I imagine that when they show their friends the picture, inside they will be saying “Aha. See. I exist in your reality of a world with sight. I am in a world with vision even though I may never truly know what that means. The evidence is irrefutable (or so I am told), this picture validates my visible existence. I am an image even when you are not there to see me, even though I can never see myself.”
I also wonder at the action of taking a picture of blind people, for the blind people themselves. It seems a futile act, recording history for people in a medium they will never perceive. I do not want to become an author of illiteracy for the illiterate, speaking of and seeking out truth when all I have and will perceive are lies. I must try to write of my reality even though I am mired in it and can’t begin to actually perceive it because someday hindsight and retrospection might allow me to glimpse what I am seeking through writing. I have to believe that my awkward attempts to touch truth, to communicate will someday make sense to me, to others. In one sense I see myself as the photographer knowing that I must continue to take pictures of the blind, for the blind so that I, as a sighted observer, may remind the blind of a snapshot of their past so they may recount the experience (even if the sheen of details have been worn smooth by time). And as a blind man myself, I require that snapshot so that the sighted can glimpse my history in spite of my perceptions and so I may harbor hope that I may some day join those with vision and know what it meant to exist.
Side note: I write of writing here and I can’t help but wonder at the futility of the task. When will I cease to write of writing and simply write? Am I using my semantic meanderings as a stall tactic? If I talk of speaking but never open my mouth otherwise, have I really said anything?