Sunday, December 03, 2006

Sonnet:: On Love; Kilorat Report

On Love

Let all be done in and for Love.
“All you need is love” John sang--it’s true.
Perhaps not practical, but if you wove
Love into every action, forgetting you,
You might experience a stunning bliss.
The irritating clerk who takes your call
Could be forgiven for her ignorance.
The myriad cracks in your defensive wall
Might be repaired as love helps you accept
The natural limitations of your role.
Attacked, you turn your cheek, strive to protect
The peace, go grab your robe and beggar’s bowl.
Why can't we do this when Love calls us on?
Self-preservation is the Devil’s con.

I had a terrible day yesterday. I tend to wake up OK, but within an hour anxiety starts churning in my stomach and I become afraid. I drag myself through the day, fearing I will not think of anything to do. Yesterday I attended a class on identifying mushrooms and I envied the fungus its peace. Or I would have if I hadn’t been so preoccupied with myself. I hit the bed early, watching UCLA (my alma mater) beat USC for the first time in eight years. Normally I would be happy over the event. But I could only experience the tension of the game, the anxiety about the outcome, and no triumphant emotions visited me after UCLA’s incredible victory. This is called anhedonia, the inability to experience pleasure.

We truly only experience pleasure when something calls us out of ourselves, a poem, a piece of music that helps us forget ourselves as we merge with the beautiful, the transcendent. This can happen as easily with a nature walk as with a vintage car show. What the thing is doesn’t matter much; it’s the process of transcendence where true joy lies. And in depression this is nearly impossible.

I was buoyed up by my daughters and siblings at Thanksgiving, but my briefly improved spirits were parasitic—they were entirely dependent on the love of others. Back at the ranch I fell into my chemical slough rather quickly. And I hate what it does to Kathleen to see me like this. Last night as I cried she kept saying, “It’s not your fault, you’re sick.” How sick I am can hardly be imagined by those who have not had a serious clinical depression, and many I have talked to who claim to have had a depression have no idea to what depths it can take you.

I tried to write a positive sonnet today nevertheless. My will is ultimately not subject to my mood, not that any act of will can lift me out of it. After college I took a job at a warehouse that was mindless, all I thought I was capable of in that depression. Repetitive physical tasks can be helpful, but when you stop, there you are again.

In any event I plan to go mushroom hunting with Kathleen today and try to employ my new knowledge of fungi. They won’t know that I envy them. O happy fungi!

At 3.5 Kilorats,



  1. How 'bout when you stop the physical labor you start to read some Peter de Vries, what happens then?

    But you're right, "there [we] are again" does seem to be where one ends up no matter what. That's significant, I'm told by people who wouldn't lie to me. This is masochistic narcissism, huh? See, what's the sense of being narcissistic, if what you do is torture yourself while being that way. There are so many other ways to exhibit the malady, like walking around humming 'I feel pretty' for one. Quick, go to the mirror and smile at yourself while humming 'I feel pretty' ... see, I told you, a much better form of narcissism.

    Now walking around humming all the time WILL drive other people nuts around you, but that's OK, why should you be the only one.


  2. The love you talk about in your poem is the world turned upside down, the world inverted, evolution interruptus. "Not what we would have thought of." Its the paradoxical solution that 'gets up everyones nose', cause we're all so self obsessed. Frankly it is 'agape', the way of the cross. That we don't do it is to our shame. The resourses are there for the asking. Faith allows people to take the step. So few of us appropriate the faith. And it shows. In the vast disparity between what calls itself 'Christian' ... and what resonates with your poem.
    Depression BTW is a total drag, a sort of curse, would you say? My dearest friend is tormented by the black dog. And only a fool would say they really understand.

  3. CE

    I like the sonnet. I have reservations on "myriad" as I think you'll probably find a stronger, less generic, more evocative adjective, given time. But that apart, I really like the lines:

    The myriad cracks in your defensive wall
    Might be repaired as love helps you accept
    The natural limitations of your role.

    Definte food for thought there.

  4. Anonymous11:05 AM PST

    Geez CE:

    I'm tryng to picture a coal miner in the 1930's coming home, bone-tired and, before dropping into bed, offering this indictment of one of his all-too-infrequent happy moments:

    "I was buoyed up by my daughters and siblings at Thanksgiving, but my briefly improved spirits were parasitic—they were entirely dependent on the love of others."

    Anyone with the energy to dissect the interiority of his pleasant feelings to this degree is inadequately fatigued. Parasitic happiness? A coal miner would grab at it. Of course a coal miner might also lack the verbal acuity and intellect perhaps to subordinate it in the lexicon of happinesses. He's just dead tired and dumb happy.

    There's something to be said for dropping into bed exhausted after a day of mindless, physical labor. Can't you 'tire yourself out of' these Herculean bouts of self-regard? Yes, I know, old school and clinically cro-magnon. But the alphabet soup of pharmacological wonders is not panacea, clearly.

    take care

  5. Anonymous6:53 PM PST

    CE, I'm detecting an unintended sharpness in my post (above) for whihc I apologize. I still maintain as John Maynard Keynes so wisely predicted, many of us are struggling under the two-edged sword of leisure. You know, the devils' playthings and all.

    take care

  6. Norm,

    I was not offended by your suggestion. Indeed, the earliest psychiatric therapeutic communities in America were farm-based, where the patients gardened hardy. One difficulty I have with physical exertion now is that my antipsychotic medication induces early fatigue. I try to walk an hour each day. I have ambitions to start a swimming regimen, but ten laps was all I could manage. I'm sure I could slowly increase that, but I must drive 15 miles to the gym, and I just bail--over and over again.

    I know from experience that when the switch in my brain flips, I'll be OK. It's hard to explain that to one who does not know this affliction. That's how it's always been. My activity level will naturally increase if my mood improves. People tend to get the cart before the horse. The horse is mood; the cart is activity.


Please share your opinion!

Unexpected Light

Unexpected Light
Selected Poems and Love Poems 1998-2008 ON SALE NOW!