Sunday, January 17, 2021

the wolf at the door

Depression is a tricky business.  It's not something I am particularly prone to..anxiety being my dysfunction drug  of choice, and can only name a couple of times where that flipped into something else.  And ultimately, I am usually a pretty happy and content person, even with a lot of anxiety at times, so when I start to notice certain tilts on the horizon I can autocorrect a bit and steer myself to less rocky shores. Bad patches have appeared, but in between, a lot of good.  In some cases the external factors exascerbate internal ones, though not always. But I feel it now..sort of like a caterpillar chewing at the edges of a leaf until suddenly, there is no leaf left. 

When I wrote my last entry, I lumped it in with all the other things I miss in pandemic world--surface things that lockdowns and safety protocols prevent, but the worst is perhaps the one thing I can't really do that no one at all is stopping me from at all.  Namely, sitting in a house and a library full of books and not really having the concentration or bandwidth to read a single one.  And don't think it's for a lack of trying.  I've started many books, new ones and old faves I thought would snap me out of it,  Sometimes I get in a few pages, but I don't last for long with so much in the world competing for my attention. This is true at home where I take a book to bed and wind up doomscrolling instead.  Or on my commute, where I used to get the bulk of my enjoyment reading done, which is now instead spent fretting over proximity of bodies and maskwearing, and whether of not that person just has allergies or is trying to kill us. 

At first I worried I'd lost interest and enjoyment in so much, and it's true, even writing, which, thank god, still happens and is perhaps my only rudder. I think because I'm writing poems in the morning, in an unpolluted state of mind.  Blog entries are still possible (obviously.)  Even art, which at this point seems to be possible again. But reading for enjoyment..I'm not so sure.  Even my manuscript reading this fall and my proofing now is something more rote and mechanical than it ever was before.  It's not the books fault surely, but some door that needs to be closed in my brain.  Or maybe a door that needs to be opened again. It's strange to think I've barely opened a book (touched books, yes, many, chapbooks and library books and textbooks) but read so very little.  And in fact, have been hoarding things again at my desk in the library for some magical day it will come back. 

What I don't know is cause and effect.  Am I not reading because I am low-key depressed and nothing has quite the shine it used to?  Or am I depressed because I am incapable of doing one of my favorite things since like the moment the letters started arranging themselves on the page so I could understand them .  (And probably, even before that.) It might just be a casualty of the real world intruding so incessantly on my inner life--my attentions so much elsewhere. The outer world leaking into the inner life and poisoning it. Maybe I need to take a reading vacation, ie several days with nothing but books and I can turn things around.  Or maybe at least fake it til I make it, which is all I can hope for for now.

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