about despair

happy month 12 of pandemic to you too

seriously, though: I’m re-forming my relationship to despair, slowly but surely. I think around 22-26 I was restless and bored; 27 was manic so the question didn’t come up, but 28-33 I’ve been more or less orbiting the attractor state of despair. 34, though, I’m out of that orbit! I’m careening all over emotional space. but some recent experiences have left me wondering what my relationship with despair is.

let me define a term. by “despair”, I’m probably not using the right word; the feeling I’m thinking of is more angry. it’s when you start feeling bad about X and respond by saying, well, who cares, X sucks anyway. it feels like a snotty punk rocker, or road rage, or maybe Walt towards the end of Breaking Bad. it’s feeling better never to have been1.

it’s a pretty coherent view of the world! and whenever I was feeling crummy, I could retreat into “well, the world sucks anyway.” problem is, it feels bad. and … maybe it’s not true? like, the world isn’t inherently bad to be in2.

so ok, I think that kind of despair is no longer my default attractor. that rules: it feels hopeful. it also feels like some responsibility: I can’t just say “this sucks and I didn’t ask to be born”; I have to make life worth living.

Sometimes that’s very hard! Sometimes I feel very run down and I’m not sure how this day can be part of a world that doesn’t suck. Or, how can I argue life is generally ok if right now I want to burn down everything in the world?

I don’t know, but my current hypothesis is: you can visit that despair planet and that’s fine and healthy, as long as you don’t get stuck in it. Take your time there, feel everything fully, and then when it’s all out, move on. If you don’t do that, then you’re restraining yourself from feeling feelings, and that rarely ends well.

  1. not saying that author is despairing; maybe he only thinks, not feels, better never to have been. ↩︎

  2. it’s not inherently good either, it’s just two wolves. ↩︎

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