Small Steps, New Moments

Yesterday I wrote about depression, so today I’ll write about … “progress” is the word, I suppose.

If my version of depression is like mud on the trail, holding me back without fully stopping me, then how to maintain forward motion? And to what end?

One thing I learned about myself a long time ago is that I derive a lot of joy and satisfaction from working towards something. It’s why I could never make it in a corporate office environment. I need to know that I am building something, executing some kind of plan that will put me into a different (better) place. Knocking out hours for somebody else’s business was never going to do that.

But what happens when, like I said yesterday, you lose your sense of that purpose? When the simple act of moving forward gets tougher and you start to lose your will?

For me, it’s all about picking something which I know will re-connect and energize me, then pushing myself out the figurative door to go do it. Sometime this is an actual argument within me, with one Self saying I don’t want to go and the other Self saying But it always makes you feel better!

Here’s a brief list of some of those things, every one of which results in me feeling just a little better. And then, in that next moment, there exists a very slight chance that I can use my new momentum to get into another slightly better moment. Thus can some momentum start to develop. Perhaps I can get out of the mud and onto some better trail.

      • Take a walk
      • Connect with nature
      • Call somebody
      • Meditate
      • Eat something healthy
      • Go to a meeting
      • Help somebody else
      • Pick a project, personal or professional, from the to-do list or “bowl of ideas” and just fucking do it
      • Write something. Anything. Like this.

In the moment after these and other helpful acts, I think of myself as a person who goes on walks, calls people, shares at meetings, etc., instead of a person who sits around feeling miserable and like he’s failing at life. And maybe, in the next moment, this “person who does positive things” can do another positive thing.

Of course, there’s another list of things I could do to try and make that “I’m failing” feeling go away. All of these things, however, result in the opposite: a person who feels less good, or just less.

      • Get loaded (thankfully I’ve done away with this one for 20+ years!)
      • Eat crappy food
      • Watch porn
      • Wallow
      • Buy something I (probably) can’t afford

And then there’s a middling list that just sort of wastes time, which honestly isn’t much more helpful than the second list above.

      • Watch useless TV (for me, usually sports, Law and Order, or “whatever is on”)
      • Work on some menial task
      • Plan a trip that I have no ability to take
      • Hit refresh on the same half a dozen websites

Each moment has for us the potential for change and growth, which means each moment also includes instability and discomfort, and each moment offers us a choice. The choice we make leads us into the next moment, which is colored by that choice. And that next moment then offers us more of the same.

And in each of these moments, I believe, we are a subtly different person, shaped ever so slightly by the last moment, and by the choice that version of us made.

So, what to do in this moment? Which “next moment” and “next me” shall I aim for? Small steps make up a journey, after all.