Archives for posts with tag: life

It’s a typical Seattle afternoon – gray, dismal, clouded, dripping with rainy melancholy. Sitting at the hipster cafe, blowing my nose and sniffling because I’m sick as a dog, the man next to me asks if I have a cold or if I’m doing cocaine.

I guess the question itself isn’t so strange. Sometimes the winters here drive us to do something – anything – to get us out of the malaise that seeps into our very pores. And while I do not personally turn to chemical substances to get me through, I am no stranger to harming myself in the pursuit of feeling better.

Maybe it’s by pushing myself to the limit of what I can take – not sleeping enough, not eating right, drinking too much, wasting my valuable energy and time on the pointless abyss that is men in Seattle and dating. Maybe it’s that internal monologue that tells me how very much I suck at life and encourages me to just give it all up. Maybe it’s crawling under the covers (literally) and giving up on the outside world.

When I was eighteen and severely anorexic, weighing 35 pounds less than I do today, my dad and I used to take walks down the trail by our house. My brain was foggy from lack of nutrition and my body was weak with strain and sadness. My only motivation was the calories I was burning (of which I had so few to spare) as we picked up our pace around the turn. My dad used to tell me that if we kept working and believing, we could part the gray clouds above. I knew he meant these clouds to symbolize my disease, my depression, but I still pictured myself literally pushing the clouds away to allow the far-off sun through. Willing that warm yellow light to give my pale and sick body back some of its vigor and life.

Things these days are different. I eat food. I like my body. But the clouds are still there, a lot of the time. And it isn’t for just one reason in particular. Yes, we have an orange blob of hatred for a president and a large segment of the population that has proven its contempt for women, immigrants, and minorities with their vote. Yes, the state of international affairs and human rights worldwide is cause for immense concern. And yes, I feel sadness and emptiness despite living the white middle class privileged life that I am so lucky to lead. But is one of these things the cause?

I don’t think so. I know that depression runs deep in my family. And sometimes I decide that I should be able to cure myself of it – for fuck’s sake, my life is pretty damn good in the grand scheme of things.

But depression is not just an inherited trait – I believe it is also a symptom of my generation. We have too much; we want too much. There is an endless supply of things to desire, and technology makes acquiring them that much easier. Our endless comparison of ourselves to others that we either know (looking at a high school acquaintance’s seemingly perfect life on Facebook) or have no actual connection with (read all about the super diet that gave Kate Upton that dream-worthy body in Marie Claire) is the opposite of what we actually need in our lives. Comparison truly is the thief of joy.

So that girl from college has a more impressive job than you? So what. Her life is her own. And your old friend from childhood married your crush? Good for them. Comparing what you have to what they seem to possess will end in nothing but heartache.

So maybe part of what we need is to stop this joy-stealing crusade of looking at our lives and measuring it against what others have. To fully, as we say in yoga, “live in the moment.” To be actually grateful for the blessings in our lives and not worry that someone else has something even “better.”

And trust me, if ever I figure out how to do this, you’ll be the first ones I tell.

Remembering a Great Man

Adapted from my post on the Keith & Keith Funeral Home page

Richard Smith was very celebrated man: born on New Year’s Eve, the whole world celebrated his birthday with him every year, he liked to joke.

He was a veteran of the Navy and a successful lawyer who loved his wife Pat and his family with all of this heart. This past Fourth of July, he passed away. He was my grandfather.

Dick was brilliant, kind, generous and happy. He was also the only grandfather that I ever knew, since both of my biological ones died before my birth. And what a good grandpa he was! Although we were his step-granddaughters and he only knew us from our teenage years on, he always treated my sister Anya and I with great love and respect. He and Pat always made sure that we were included – that we were part of the family.

I will never forget the vacations and holidays that we spent together in Long Beach and Yakima. There are so many fond memories from those times – moments that brought our new family together.  There were trying moments too – and tears sometimes. It’s not always easy to form a cohesive family unit in the aftermath of two divorces. But we made it work, and Dick’s kindness and hospitality made a huge difference.

Of all of the memories, there is one night that I especially hold in my heart right now. It was Christmastime, and all of my siblings and I were sitting in Dick and Pat’s living room (which was beautifully decorated for the holidays, of course). From his wheelchair, Dick read us a number of solemn yet hauntingly beautiful cowboy poems. As he read, he lit up, and I was entranced. I will miss his laugh and kind eyes – but I’ll never forget them if I merely recall this moment.

Just four days before his passing, Dick renewed his wedding vows to his beloved wife of 65 years. The beauty of the long life that they shared together is overwhelming. I can only hope to have the strength and patience to find a love equally as wonderful and lasting.

I feel like it’s taken me a few days to fully grasp that he is not with us anymore. I feel sad, and yet happy and hopeful on the other hand – because he lived such a long, rich and meaningful life. That is something truly spectacular that many people aren’t lucky enough to have.

I’m sending all of my love to my wonderful step-family and hoping that time will ease the grief.

Dick will never be forgotten – and he will always be loved. I’d like to think that all of those fireworks last Thursday were actually set off in salute of his amazing life.

Read Dick’s obituary in the Yakima Herald.