April 27, 2012

Elevation: Sea Level

When I was in therapy in New York, my therapist thought my biggest problem was something she identified as "poisonous thoughts."

This generated out of a conversation in which I stated that the status quo in my life was unhappiness - misery, depression, disappointment - and that anything happy, pleasurable, joyful, satisfying was merely a fleeting experience, an exception to the rule.

In her opinion, my life wasn't bad (though some bad things had happened to me), I wasn't bad, but the way I thought about things was the worst of all.

At the time, I was the polar opposite of my father, who posited that happiness provided the baseline measurement, and that it could be defined by an absence of sadness. For him (a man I never knew to be depressed though I could've never faulted him for it given his job and marriage to my mother), life's slings and arrows were merely aberrations, interruptions in a pleasant, placid existence of same ol' same ol', in which no news is good news.

I never admired my father's complacency with mediocrity. I pitied it. It took a lot more to make me happy, and even then, I could only achieve happiness in the moment - eating, drinking, kissing, sleeping - and never become happy as a person.

Now that I've moved to California, out in the open air, I'm still unhappy - but I'm unhappy about things, I wouldn't say I'm an unhappy person. Don't get me wrong, I'm not perched atop a mountain of happiness, but I'm not deep down in the lowlands of Badwater either.

Instead, I've found some middle ground between the peaks and valleys of life, along an undulating path whose general trend is stable, consistent, persistent, moving forward. I might gain 500 feet in elevation; I might dip down 500 feet.

But overall, somehow, I've managed to attain a sense of - and a comfort with - Sea Level.

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