“I feel your pain,” he said, brown eyes glittering with just a
hint of tears. “But you’ll feel joy again.”
sincerity stunned me, this handsome, younger cowboy-type.
Gulping back my own tide of tears, I recited from Kahlil Gibran,
pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your
understanding . . . It’s something like that, huh?”
reaction told me The Prophet was Greek to him, but we embraced.
love you he said,” without a hint of sexuality.
you know what those words, ‘I feel your pain,’ mean to me?” I
was sobbing now. “That’s all a person needs to hear. I don’t
need advice. I just need to know someone heard me. That I’m not
raced to a support group meeting because I had awoken feeling
like my depression would swallow me up. I had a laundry list of
things to do to promote my new book and start a new career, but
I was paralyzed the day long. I kept chewing over fears that I
won’t make enough money to support myself while doing what I
love. That I’ll end up pushing a K-Mart cart around the streets
and sleeping beneath the freeway overpass.
you know even wealthy people have these fears?) At any rate, the
depression had been creeping up for a week or so. I knew it when
I became morosely fascinated by a particular photograph in my
diary. It features a blue glacier ice cave with a frigid
waterfall, somewhere in Antarctica. I kept picturing myself in
that place – absolutely beyond alone, beyond space, a cold death
– so inviting . . .
On my way home from the meeting, I was bawling so hard I had to
pull over to the side of the road beside the ocean. “God,
Goddess, She, He, It or They,” I prayed, “Please remove my mean
thoughts about others and, especially, me.”
see, mere minutes before the cowboy had indebted me to him
eternally, I had been feeling critical of his poor reading
skills; impatient with something he was reading to the group. He
reminded me of a little boy, Billy, who used to drive me up the
wall in the fifth grade reading class that I taught 30 years
both mental and physical – can make you mean.
unless you’re reading this, or you are a very close friend, or
you belong to the same support group I do, you’ll never know I’m
suffering behind the toothy grin I’ve perfected. I never miss a
deadline, and I can schmooze with dignitaries and look as
balanced as a professional surfer making a perfect tube run.
I’ll never let myself go, get fat, not comb my hair or apply
make-up. Oh, no, they’ll have to take me out feet first.
if you can relate to this emotional reading, you are either (a)
an artist (b) clinically depressed (c) a normal person who is
not in denial and has compassion.
cannot relate to this you are, well, on a river in Egypt or an
eternal optimist. And heaven knows we Type As need them. A
couple of them are my best friends.
However, a heck of a lot of people who look finger lickin’ good
on the outside are really bawling on the inside.
all the time - God forbid! But maybe more often than you think.
instance, I just re-interviewed Evgeny and Lydia Baranov (see my
“Quotable Notable” archives for the original interview). Since
spring, they have been painting up a storm following a deeply
inspirational visit to Carnival in Venice, Italy.
This couple is, possibly, the only one in the world that paints
simultaneously on the same canvas. Togetherness is their creed.
And their sumptuous renderings of 17th century couples, in
swishy satin, feathered hats and divine masks, were just blowing
the circuits of my brain.
prismatic paintings were perched on easels in their living
room-turned-artist studio. A benediction of light poured over
them from the windows beyond.
beware! - in life there is always balance. And the Baranovs
spoke openly of their depressive side; of days when they felt
their works were for naught, even though they hang in the homes
of VIPS and galleries internationally.
Not convinced, yet, that we all wear masks regardless of our
station in life?
know a billionaire whose press reads like that of a president or
sultan or Hollywood Super Star. Guess what this person just told
me? This person who signs autographs by the tens of thousands
and gives motivational speeches to NASDAQ kings and queens?
you ever feel fear of rejection? I do about almost everything
all the time,” they said.
did I reply?
hell, yes. I’m afraid of rejection, fear and just about
everything in between. But I keep plugging away. On the days I
have high self-esteem I try to get tons done because I don’t
know when I’ll feel like a penny waiting for change again.”
I’m on a rant, I know it. But what would this world look like if
people peeked out from behind their masks a little more often?
Think of the energy that would be released that we spend faking
We’d all cry more, but we’d laugh more too.
back to Gibran, and his missive on Joy and Sorrow: . . . “Your
joy is your sorrow unmasked . . . The deeper the sorrow carves
into your being, the more joy you can contain . . .”
n this New Year, why
not have the love to see beyond another’s mask, and the courage
to drop your own, from time to time . . .
CORRECTION: In my last column, “The Fortune Cookie,” I said the
organization I spoke for was Seniors In Retirement. Wrong! It is
Sons In Retirement. Sorry, just another
Mental Pause . . .