An Excess of Black Bile, or, My Melancholy Day

19 Aug

What makes a meaningful life? Some days I think I know the answer to this. Today, it eluded me. Where do I fit in? What am I here to accomplish? Today, I drifted about town aimlessly carrying self-hatred on my back in the stifling heat. I fit in nowhere; I accomplished nothing. Today, life sucks. It’s just one day, right? I need to see the big picture, but when you’re still stuck in that bad day, everything is tragic.  

The coffee shop–yesterday, my salvation and hope for daily creativity–found me banging the wrong keys for an hour and a half, my right hand jabbing the BACKSPACE key over and over and over. The coffee tasted bitter, but everyone else seemed to think it was fine. Smiles and chatter all around. It’s days like this simple decisions are impossible and those I do make seem wrong, like the choices I present myself are sucky to begin with. Should I climb down into the sewer drain or drop-kick a bowling bowl? Either way, I’m f—-d.

I biked to the library to remind myself what real writing looks like. I read three short stories from a literary journal–one about a mom who gives birth to a baby made of butter. Genius. My kind of story. But that damn butter baby boxed my self-esteem into a bloody mess. Anyone can read a butter baby story. I want to write one.

I feel a new pressure now with the girls gone all day. I’ve been asked this dreaded question dozens of times: What do you do? It’s a stupid question; don’t we do many things? Should we be defined by how we earn money? Of course not. I’ve told many people that I work part-time out of the house so I can be at home with the girls. A stay-at-home dad. But what am I all day when the kids are gone? What’s left? What fills that huge vacuum? It’s sad that we get attached to our labels. I’m just me and that’s enough. It should be enough, but, of course, it isn’t.

So I’m not easily fulfilled. Is that just another way to say I have melancholy tendencies? I don’t know. What’s a good day to you? What kind of day gently slides you under the sheets and puts a smile on your face? How many smile-in-bed-after-reviewing-your-day nights does it take to create “a good life?” I know how most people spend their days. They do work they don’t enjoy, come home, spend a small amount of time with family & friends, zone out in front of the TV for two hours, then fall into bed, exhausted, only to wake up to repeat the same scenes. No wonder many look to the sky at some point and say “There’s got to be more to life than THIS.”

To exist is to suffer, Buddha said. I found this written in one of my notebooks yesterday. If that’s true, that we all suffer…why do I, so often, feel like I’m the only one? Intellectually, I know I’m not alone, but in the depth of my suffering, it’s what I feel.

Yet, tomorrow is a new day…one of the true beauties of life. Every moment is a new chance to turn it all around.

Let’s lay this day to rest.


4 Responses to “An Excess of Black Bile, or, My Melancholy Day”

  1. nursewrachette August 20, 2010 at 2:52 am #

    My dear friend, I ask myself those same questions. You are not alone in those. When I look back on the last 10 years of my life, there was so much sadness but bittersweet top notes that made my despare worth surviving. Now although life is never perfect, the sweetness has returned.
    Yes you will have bumpy days, you have a right to that too. But tomorrow the sun will still shine, and you will have survived one more day. I am Buddhist, and yes I agree “To exist is to suffer.” However what do you call suffering? Ah just some food for thought. You have the greatest love, the love of a child. Oh and double that you have two!

    • fightn4it August 20, 2010 at 6:24 am #

      Oh, you’re a Buddhist. I’ve read many books on Buddhism and I try to meditate daily. I think it’s the philosophy that fits me best.

  2. 4eternalsunshine August 20, 2010 at 8:56 am #

    I do the same thing to myself ALL THE TIME! The self torture of my own thoughts, on most days makes me F-ing crazy. I have to read some Dr. Dyer (10 Secretes to Inner Peace is usually with me at all to de-funkify my thoughts:) Eckhart Tolle is still over my head sometimes, hopefully someday I’ll understand him 🙂

    Nothing is, unless our thinking makes it so. ~ William Shakespeare

    Hope today is a better day 🙂

    • fightn4it August 21, 2010 at 7:13 am #

      Thanks. It was better but first I went to Borders and read some of that Dyer book. I’m just waiting for some of that wisdom to sink in permanently.

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