When I sit down to write, I am overcome with a feeling of my own life’s paucity of details. Part of this is the result of a lifelong depression. Being depressed changes how we remember things. When you are depressed, you remember trends, moods and gists but details slide off into the abyss. So while I can remember having gone to Europe after college and to Indonesia before the break-up of my marriage, I haven’t been able to commit to memory the specifics that would locate a story I might tell.
Now, I am convinced that the human will gives us the wiggle room to change our brains and thus our lives. So, I’ve been working on focusing on the details. I figure that if the depressed mind doesn’t focus on details, then choosing to do so will help my brain to develop into a non-depressed one. And what I’ve realized is I’ve created a life that is, in fact, deprived of interesting details. Makes sense! I have a tendency to not remember details, so I don’t notice my life is bland and devoid of detail. (It’s not devoid of detail; I’m seeing loads of details now that I’m looking for them. I’m just incredibly bored with them. Do you really want to know the details of how I had to change my bus commute when the local bus system changed their lines? This was a serious issue! I’ve had to change my writing schedule! And add 20 minutes of walking to my day! Trader Joe’s is still accessible after work, but the produce market requires an additional walk of three blocks! So many details!)
And the most boring part of my detail filled day is my job. After six years of non-employment, I took the first decent job I was offered. And it’s really decent! Good benefits, easy commute (despite aforementioned bus change
Back when I was getting ready to look for my first job in six years (the word “girding” comes to mind) a dear friend of mine helped me to gain the right mindset. He reminded me that David Sedaris’ best work is about the weird ass jobs he’s held. I loved that! Of course! I could just take jobs that are weird and interesting and give me material to write about! This revisioning of the job search radicalized me and I sent out queries to all sorts of places I wouldn’t have otherwise. I still wish I’d been able to take the job of crowd photographer for the Oakland A’s, but by the time they called I already had a 40 hour, full bennies, corporate-wear administration job where I sit on my ass all day surfing the internet and looking busy.
Now with the Great Recession and the fact that I’m old enough I require health care, I don’t know if I can afford to take a bunch of weird part time gigs until I can figure out if health care reform really does allow me to be eligible for health care on my own. But I can try for a job where I can wear cool socks and not dye my hair while I occasionaly mention my ex-wife without having to call her a "friend".
And this is all a part of living the life of someone devoted to creating. Artists, writers, musicians, all people who create, must be sensitive to the world. We must create ourselves as beings who can receive the world as much as we can bear. Depression is so much a defense against too much world too soon with no safety in which to experience. It's a buffer against overwhelm. But to create, we must allow the world in.