The greatest myth that I ever believed was that 'truest joy' was something that should spring up on its own. Fumbling about through life I should just happen upon it, like a drunken pirate upon buried treasure.
Yet, as my life story began turning its pages, I found that instead of hidden joy, my book held despair. Instead of feeling like I had discovered some great treasure, I realized that maybe this story, my story, would be one that would demand a relentless pursuit of joy.
When my story hit its eighteenth year, a page turned that forever changed my life. My brain decided to turn against my own well being. That's the best way I have come up with to describe my depression. Six of my prime years, plagued with serious bouts of despair and crippling anxiety.
Six years that have lead me to the conclusion that if I would experience consistent happiness and joy, I would have to pursue it relentlessly. That if the rhythms of my life were to ever hold a consistent thread of joy, I would have to make it one of my chief efforts to obtain.
I'm writing this now to what I am guessing is a significant group of you. Reading this, you may have come to the point of exhaustion. It is my hope, and my prayer that you would not give up. That instead of resignation, you would realize that you are playing by different rules in the realm of depression.
Rules that make life come significantly harder, sometimes for no apparent reason. In spite of it all, let the fact that you are reading this today remind you that you are still winning. That you are strong enough; and that you will feel joy again.
Axioms for Life
A powerful tool in my relentless pursuit of joy has been two axioms that I wrote during my last year of university. Axioms are short phrases intended to hold significant truth and instruction for life. Think proverbs for example: "A quiet answer turns away wrath". (Proverbs 15:1). I want to share just one of those axioms with you.
"Pursue the lair"
Pursue the lair. This has been a reminder to me that the best things often come after conquering the dragon. Like in the Desolation of Smaug, as Bilbo Baggins must venture deep into the liar and face the dragon to complete his life altering quest, we too must face life with the same determination. Our pursuit of joy in the midst of life's vicious onslaught often requires our most diligent effort to obtain. When joy feels hard to find, remember that you might often have to pursue the liar.
This last week, I stumbled across the works of Jack Gilbert. There is a lot that could be said about Jack Gilbert, but all you need to know is he was an American Poet born in the 1920's who lived a unique lifestyle of hermitude throughout his years.
As I was sitting outside my favourite coffee shop reading I came across this quote. A quote that sums up quite well the fight we have set before us.
"We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world"
Dan Peterson lives near Chicago, Illinois, USA. He enjoys discovering old books, new places, and good coffees. His dream is to summit a mountain on every continent and have a pet pygmy marmoset.
Dan Peterson's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/dan-peterson.html