Friday, March 4, 2011

"One Little Victory"

One little victory
The greatest act can be
One little victory
                                                                      ~ Neil Peart

A few days ago, I split my mind right in half. Somehow, I separated my intellect from my emotions during a low moment.

We all know what it means to be depressed and we can easily council people as to why things are not so bad as they seem. We try to help them get through with logic. If someone is afraid, for instance, that he has a brain tumor because of recurring headaches, but numerous scans and tests say all is well, we say: "The tests were negative. You are fine. You're being illogical." But that doesn't always work, because the emotion of fear can smother the process of reasoning. Emotions can overpower us.

Dante's fate for those who lose control in life.
Illustrated by Wm. Blake
But the other day, I hit a familiar place of desperation -- a convergence of pressures that bears down upon me every year around the same time. And, every year, my instinctive reaction to the situation is that this is the last time I will let it happen; that it is time to make a drastic change. But, every year, the pressures are eventually surmounted -- I get through, and all is well until the next overload.

This time, I won a little internal victory. I felt myself really spilt in two, within. I was feeling the desperation -- the knee jerk "I have to get out of here" feeling -- and decided to wrestle with it. My internal intellectual voice said, "You're here again. You have been here before. This is not what is; this is simply what happens and it passes. This is transient. You'll be fine."

It was different than hearing someone say: "This too shall pass." This was me, in the trenches of desperation, taking hold.

It worked. It was as if I had been a kid in a pool making waves. (Remember the way you would do that, jumping around, maybe using a little float-board, and the waves would slosh up high, over you and over the sides?) It felt like I had stopped jumping. I could almost feel the waves settle and the water smooth over.

I am an emotional guy. I cry in some movies. Music brings tears to my eyes quite often. I am fiercely attached to my family and I express that attachment in great firework displays of emotion, for better or worse. But I'll be damned if I am going to let emotion rule me.

How far we let our emotions go is something to decide on. We can't control when emotions happen, but we can break them, like riders break wild horses, if we wish. When to let go should be a choice, not an involuntary reaction to circumstance. There is a time to let go, but there is never a time to get swept away unawares. When the wind of passion or fear -- or of any intense feeling -- comes, we have to grab something solid and hold on or get swept away. Each victory we win strengthens our grip.


  1. I have the same policy with emotions. Believe it or not, I used to get in fights at school all the time when I was little... I don't remember when, but when I figured this out it was like a breakthrough. It's good to see someone else with a similar mentality.

    And then last year, Kopreski said I reminded him of Spock. It made me realize how far I've come. haha.

  2. You have essentially found the root of all psychological therapy in your short blog post. It's impressive, and incredibly accurate.


  3. Shane -- oh, to be Spock . . . yet, even he had his "Amok Time."

    Papi -- pass the word around. Why waste money on psychotherapy when one can just read Hats and Rabbits?

  4. Oh, Chris this is great! I need to have one of my friend's read this...right now!

  5. Thanks, Krista -- hope it does some small good.