They’re here. The long, cold, damp winter months with their smothering darkness. So bring out those UV and infrared lamps and steer clear of depression.
By the way, what is the deal with this depression epidemic nowadays? Is it the sensory deprivation of our virtual environment, the lack of true friends, the materialism, the stress, too little love, too little physical work, not enough time spent outdoors? Do we even invest our happiness cleverly? Do we depend too much on convenience, perhaps? Do we allow ourselves to be possessed and driven by finite things?
To be honest, we probably shouldn’t complain. We are privileged. So what if the things we want don’t just fall in our laps? We can’t build character by theorizing cozily in front of the TV, there has got to be some level of effort involved in making our lives more meaningful. Hard work, family, community involvement – these should be catalysts. If they’re in the right balance, they can energize us instead of exhausting us.
So why is depression threatening to become the plague of the century in the postmodern world? Do we have it too easy? Do we have too much time to get bored? Have we seen it all? Is there nothing out there that can inspire us, and enthrall us, and give us hope on a profound level? Or have our societies and expectations become too complex, too competitive, too tough to navigate? Why do so many people feel helpless, abandoned, and overwhelmed by scary forces way beyond their ability to cope? What is the missing ingredient? Could it be…. (oh, no! – gasp of horror – we’re enlightened people!)… could it be God???
I can’t help but remember the homesick asylum-seeker from northern Iraq. “We lacked nothing over there; we had everything we needed. I only left to save my children from the bombs.” Then he’d take out a picture and show us his great fortune: a mud house and two goats. That was enough to him. That was his notion of “enough“. What was he thinking? What was his angle? He didn’t even complain about the church service being too long (he was an Orthodox christian). In their village, it lasted from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. In our congregation, we come in at 10:30 and get itchy feet at noon…
The answer has to be more truth, more spirituality. An ephemeral and relativized existence, completely “rooted” in the quicksands of the here and now, and as a grand finale our irreversible transformation into food for worms – that doesn’t offer a very cheery perspective, does it? Besides, if you think you are the center of the Universe, that can only lead to depression. Because you will assign the same degree of importance to your problems, too. And that in turn will make them seem cataclysmic. The laws of physics tell us that objects close by appear larger, and objects farther away appear smaller. Sometimes, the farther away we are from God, the more it seems like He has no place in the world, that He’s negligible. Yeah, right… about as negligible as the Sun – from where we stand, that’s also just a “small” ball of fire in the sky, and yet it inexorably lights and warms up our lives. And just because it’s hidden behind some clouds, you don’t have to give up trusting that it exists. Or that it makes life possible.
So forget your worries. The sun will shine again. (Even though, in some parts of Germany, that is hard to believe 🙂 ).
Everything is taken care of on a higher level.