Strange Mercy

"... and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"

Location: Mid-Atlantic Sprawl, United States

I'm a former idealist turned 'defensive pessimist' who has concluded, after living on two coasts, two continents, and an island, that most of us spend our lives as prey, economically and psychologically. Awareness is the key to understanding this; but once we understand it, we may transcend it, choosing, when we can, to be neither prey nor predator.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

David Foster Wallace's "Last Lecture"

This is worth reading repeatedly.

Its author, David Foster Wallace, committed suicide in September 2008, a victim of unremitting depression. And this commencement speech, his "Last Lecture", [although of course he gave many more after it] is one of the bravest things I have ever read, even without that tragic afterword.

Most writing on depression, on cognitive therapy, on 're-framing' and 'choice' in that context, is purely speculative. Written, with nothing but the best intentions, by people who observe, and report their observations. Honestly, faithfully, but.

These are the words of someone who knows.

And knowing, chose, every day, to open his eyes; sit up; stand up; put one foot in front of the other.

And understood that each such choice and each such day was holy.

This address is, in a very real way, a sacrament. It was given three years before he made an ultimately fatal choice to stop taking the only antidepressant that had helped him, in hopes that he would find that he no longer needed it ...

... but found instead that the dark closed in, and the medication he had relinquished no longer had any power to bring back the light.

And nothing else that could was found in time.

Despair is deadly sin, we are taught. Yet from the Cross a stronger voice had something else to say:

Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani?

This, too, is the Word of the Lord.

Hear, and be still.

We cannot judge; we must not judge. We cannot know enough to judge. Here, we can only observe.

And be still.

God grant his loved ones find him again, in the Place where all roads meet.