… when they look as cool as this, anyway. I caught these clouds one morning on the UAA campus at the beginning of October 2003, on the first of what I still remember so clearly as a two or three-day period of some really remarkable skies in Anchorage.
Even though I was feeling pretty crappy yesterday, I like the cloud pic in my yesterday post too. I took it from my dentist’s office a few months ago. I take a lot of cloud pics, because — well, yeah. Clouds are not really all about bleakness. It just feels like that sometimes, when one is inhabited by grey. But the grey I feel when I’m in that state of depression I call the grey is not full of lifegiving rain, or a blizzard of snow, or even the destructive force of Job’s Voice from the Whirlwind — like that Oklahoma tornado I posted last week. The grey is just this featureless, lifeless, blah.
But when it dissolves away… ahhhhh.
The aha! experience — that’s what I call the thing that happened to me in August 1984, when self-hatred went away — one of the central defining experiences of my life. (But it was my sister-in-law Linda who first called it that — thanks Linda! & happy birthday!) I wrote a brief account of it a few years ago. Very brief account, which leaves out a lot.
As soon as it happened, it’s as if I could feel all the universe flowing into me, breathing in & out with me. That lasted a long time, & I can still feel it on my best days. I later came to call it the cool breeze — another one of those phrases for my various feeling states. But here’s the deal: I found I could feel it even when I was sad.
One day, not long after the aha, I had a big falling out with a friend of mine who lived in that big trailer court that used to be at the corner of Muldoon & Debarr in east Anchorage. Bang! — I slammed out the door & left her, & I walked a long ways crying about it, until I stopped and sat on Russian Jack Hill overlooking traffic. It was late September. I was still crying, but at the same time I could see the Chugach Mountains just to the east of Anchorage dusted with their first snow — termination dust, we call it here — & it was beautiful, & I could feel that beauty inside me instead of just perceive it intellectually. And here I was still crying. And I suddenly realized: This is what sadness feels like. Not depression: but sadness. I had never known that feeling before. It was like other feelings I hadn’t known before, like beauty that I could see with my eyes & recognize with my intellect, but not feel at all.
Now I could feel it. Ever since then, I’ve been able to feel it… except when I take one of those dips, long or short, into the pit or the grey — but now those times are the exception, rather than the rule.
But it still always feels pretty damn good when the blanket of yuck slides off me. & I can breathe again.
Day followed day, the old stream of time,
just the same as before.
But each day I saw the mountains change —
one day growing gold in the afternoon sun —
one day dusted white by the season’s first snow —
one day touched by clouds as soft as white roses —
I could see them and breathe them and touch them and feel them.
Each day I saw the mountains change —
so did change find me.
— from “Alaska Love Poem” (1984)
That was half my life ago. I thought at the time that the depression/despair gig & I were entirely quits, which of course proved not to be the case; but on the other hand, I never returned to the self-hatred; & it was a fundamental step #2 in having the stuff I needed to deal with depression/despair ever after. (The first step having been to accept my lesbianism five years previously.)
So… I’m feeling pretty good now. Heading over to my friend Sylvia’s for our normal Wednesday night get-together. Tonight, we’re re-watching the pilot for “Caprica” as a refresher for its season premiere this Friday. I’m stopping to get some Bear Tooth food on the way there. Life could be better, life could be worse — life goes on. And right now, that’s just about right.
Here’s some more clouds from October 1, 2003, with some Chugach Mountains thrown in for good measure.