The World Goes On
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
~Mary Oliver from Wild Geese
There is a story about a woman whose son died who went to the Buddha to ask him to bring her son back. He said that if she could find one family who hadn’t known sorrow, he would do as she wanted. So she immediately started going from house to house, but wasn’t able to find one place untouched by sorrow. I’ve been depressed a few times in my life and, when I am, time changes. It slows down. I feel alone, as if no one could possibly understand how I feel.
Mary Oliver knows about this. But she says focusing on that despair keeps our personal rain cloud over our heads. Instead, we need to find compassion and empathy, to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, to acknowledge our pain and cry together. When we share our pain, we see that we all experience times of darkness in our life. They can be the life-altering times of the death of someone we love or a sudden change in our ability to live independently, or they can be the small sadnesses brought on by failing at something, regretting a decision, or even the change in daylight. All of these benefit from feeling the support and comfort of those around us. (Please note that I am referring to non-clinical depression. If you are severely depressed, please seek medical attention).
But that’s not the end of the process. We need to start noticing the small moments of life around us and find comfort in the changing seasons and stages. Allow the geese to fly home; don’t try to hold them back. In the grieving process, yogic principles help us move through the pain. Truthfulness shows us the necessity of sharing our pain, not avoiding it or pretending it doesn’t exist. Non-violence allows us to be kind to ourselves and accept the help of others. And non-attachment lets us release our pain slowly and gradually as we move back into the flow of life.