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I have to tell you, I have never been closer to utter despair. I fully realize my station as no more than the eyelash on the face of a microscopic dust mite resting on the head of a pin and all that. Unfair that I don't enjoy the blissful ignorance of the mite. As Voltaire rightly pointed out, "Animals have these advantages over man: they never hear the clock strike, they die without any idea of death, they have no theologians to instruct them, their last moments are not disturbed by unwelcome and unpleasant ceremonies, their funerals cost them nothing, and no one starts lawsuits over their wills."

I come here every day looking for the breaking news that will stop the horror and hideousness of ... well, everything. The war, the economy, the politicians, the primary, the environment, the housing slump, the cost of a loaf of bread and a dozen eggs and a college education. I come here, frankly, looking for a headline that tells me what to do and what to make of it all. But I'm getting tired, and more and more depressed. For the first time in my life, I am without optimism of any sort.

Jump off the head of the pin with me, my fellow mite, if you want to talk with me some more.

Maybe I would find the present situation amusing if I were a fatalist, or even older than I am, or if I were childless with no mite progeny to fret about. You have probably done the same as me, on occasion: taking the whole sweep of history, you realize that compared to the sorry souls from the Inquisition to Wounded Knee to Katrina, you haven't so much to lament. Hell, I'm no fool. Ever since I read The Diary of Anne Frank as a seventh grader, I've known that I should keep my mouth shut about suffering unless I'm being boarded on a train like cattle.

Perhaps this is the truth of history: every man lives in an age of fools.

We imagine we are on some trajectory of improvement -- at least in the West we like to think so -- but more and more it is looking like some huge ass meltdown is headed our way. The intellectual dissonance is killing me. I am so on edge waiting for the headline that confirms it, once and for all, that I can hardly drive the car some days, or remember what I need to get at the grocery store. I feel entirely alone in this, and though I have never minded solitude I do on occasion wonder if I'm going mad. Is it me, or is every single problem in the world being met by the most ridiculous responses I have ever seen?

To say that I would like to sue the government of my country -- for alienation of affection for starters, and severe mental anguish for good measure -- is putting it mildly. I don't say this glibly. I am serious when I say that what is happening, and my inability to do anything to ameliorate it, is ruining my health. It is also ruining my relationships with everyone in my life. My kids are tired of me running to the television to see what Olbermann will say or shushing them when an enticing news item comes across public radio. They're tired of explaining to their friends why we don't go to Wal-Mart and why their mother hates aspartame, bottled water, bovine growth hormone (oh, the list goes on and on). Neighbors and friends no longer try to engage me in small talk, which I can no longer do. I will ask them if they read this, or know that ... I exhaust them with my intensity (which I think seems more and more like a certifiable imbalance) when all they want is the proverbial cup of sugar.

A cup of sugar. I still have that much. I get tears in my eyes sometimes when I ponder the wonder of it: that for 50 years and counting, I have had the richness of education and travel, of enough heat and relatively inexpensive water, of endless cups of sugar.

Who knows what happens when bees and bats die, when the world gets hotter, when Halliburton owns the water beneath your lawn and the drops that fall from the sky. Who knows what happens when we so deregulate our economy that we all roll rocks uphill every day to ensure that Blackwater makes its quarterlies, and that no rich man be brought low even temporarily. Who knows what happens when so many foxes guard so many henhouses that eggs become obsolete.

I have thought that my problem is that I need an angle, my own particular groove to carve. I could take on Wal-Mart and picket daily. Or march against the war with the 12 other locals who sometimes slog around the county building with their makeshift signs. I could rail against the EPA, which is letting BP add to the air and water pollution where I live so they can blissfully go on stoking the idea that gasoline is forever. I can go to city council meetings to protest that millions for roads through wetlands is ass backwards in this day and age. I can write letters to the editor protesting the corporate farms sprouting up all over the region, or go international with complaints about Monsanto screwing the Iraqis and everyone else in the world with their seed monopolies and their poison production. I could lecture people at the meetings I sometimes attend (though I have less and less appetite for meetings) because we are being plied with cases of bottled water.

What I see day after day is a brand of recklessness and stupidity that saps my strength entirely. At a recent local Democrats meeting, I met the woman running against Mitch Daniels and listened to her stump speech. I heard "we have to grow the economy" and "let's improve education" and "ethanol is great." Platitudes, and many built on false premises. After her, a man running for some state position. His main axe to grind? "Our health care system can improve if we stop providing freebies to illegal immigrants." And these are the friendlies.

Tell me, who is the opposition? Just about everyone - the congenitally Republican and the supposedly enlightened. I have neighbors who may not like pollution, but they are anxious for us to "win" in Iraq. I know people who hate Wal-Mart, but think nothing of filling their tanks with corn-based ethanol to drive to the malls. I am surrounded by people who do not know who the current U.S. attorney general is, that the White House "lost" e-mail and documents, that Halliburton moved its headquarters to Dubai, though they are full of gossip from their cubicles at work. The height of their political knowledge might be that they know some politician in Idaho is gay. I know commodities brokers and realtors and so many others who ask not what they can do to help others and right this rock-bound ship, but lick their chops at the turn in events and say, "How can I personally profit most?"

That, my friends, is capitalism. Which has nothing to do with truth. Or decency. Or solving problems. Or feeding people. Or stopping global warming. Necessity has always been the mother of invention. Capitalism is the bastard husband who comes home drunk and knocks down the Christmas tree.

There are some truths I am tired of confronting. The great majority of people in politics are morons, brought into their positions of importance by dint of their dumb acquiescence to the powers that be. Americans are a greedy and stupid people, taken on the whole, who worship money and wouldn't recognize truth if it bit them on the collective ass. Bush is wrong, Cheney is wrong (and they have power); Chomsky is right, Naomi Klein is right, Howard Zinn is right, Michael Moore is right (but they have little). The world is wrestling with dwindling resources the way it always does -- with a cataclysmic cleansing. We are right now watching the world's power brokers tee up to grab what remains and it is going to get uglier and uglier. In the meantime, the American economy is teetering on the brink and we still see the media madly try to bury the news so we can't glimpse the decomposing body. My "local" (corporate owned chain, not really local) newspaper is still printing lies - we might be headed for a recession, but some experts say not; giving taxpayer money to entice chain stores is a great idea; and the proverbial: buy now! Interest rates are going down, down, down!!

Three days ago, there was a story about local religious types being upset that "faith is not playing a bigger part in the presidential election." For chrissakes, where do you start?

Like the quartet that played on as the Titanic went down, there are those among us who are seeing the inevitable amidst the hoopla. I am one of them, and I apologize, but there are so many holes. Today we are supposed to save the woman screwed and sued by Wal-Mart, put pressure on Debbie Wasserman Schultz, donate to Obama, start a Victory Garden, send a care package to Iraq, watch a video of an ice shield breaking off ... I have been doing these things for years now and nothing changes -- in fact, things grow worse. How long ago did I sign the petitions about White House shenanigans that led to Harriet Miers announcement of "ethics classes" for  staffers -- one would be an idiot to ask how that turned out. That seems light years ago. Back when petitions seemed appropriate and pitchforks as yet unnecessary.

A cup of sugar. The wonder of it. I have poured you a glass of vinegar to drink, and all you want is sugar. But despair has become my daily bread, and no amount of sugar makes it palatable.

Originally posted to JuliaAnn on Sat Mar 29, 2008 at 12:53 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Oh, sweetie, take a break (27+ / 0-)

      I did last year. I stopped watching the news for almost two weeks and stopped reading blogs. I read good fiction, walked the dog, and cleaned out the closets. It didn't keep a soldier alive, it didn't stop the climate from changing, it didn't do anything useful except it kept me going.

      There is so much despair in the world, and we are so small, and sometimes it just gets to be too much to bear. Please stop for a day or two or three and take care of yourself. Find ways to recharge. Then you can find a little corner of the world that you can make better.

      Start now. Take the kids out somewhere and concentrate like mad on them. Only them. Notice what's changed and how they're growing. Talk about what's happening in their lives. They are your legacy and all of our futures.

      In a few days, you can start taking on the rest of the world again. But give yourself a little breathing room now.

      Patrick Flaherty for 3rd District Alderman - New Leadership for Milwaukee

      by 1864 House on Sat Mar 29, 2008 at 01:11:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You are kind (15+ / 0-)

        and offer good advice. I think I'll do what you say. Thank you for that cup of sugar!

        "There are four boxes to use in the defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, ammo. Use in that order." Ed Howdershelt

        by JuliaAnn on Sat Mar 29, 2008 at 01:14:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It'll destroy you if you let it.... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          truong son traveler, 1864 House

          There is an inevitability about all of this that people like you and me can't change.  When discussing platitudes, we need to remember to add in - we the people, democratic government, love your neighbor, and a whole host of ideals from our side.  I watched hope die with the assassination of JFK.  I remember Ike, the GI Bill, victory, and growing prosperity.  I can't tell you one thing that is better as a result of decades of marching, chanting, protesting, changing, and GOTVing.  Sooner or later, you and I, we, have to accept the underlying truth in "ya can't fight city hall".  

          Spring is springing, go have some fun.  At least, focus on problems you can actually fix.  It is amazing what peace a sense of accomplishment can bring.  

          ...once you're willing to say whatever it takes to win, you lose. ~~Dean

          by dkmich on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 04:39:01 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Same thing for me, coping tactics..... (17+ / 0-)

        I didn't go cold turkey for a year, though maybe I ought to.  But I have to pull away sometimes from all of it.  I'm gravely concerned and not hopeful about the direction this country is taking, about what the past three decades or so have done to the American character or how to remedy that.  But I have to let it go and just watch The Simpsons or play computer Solitaire.  

        Your prose is terrific and your message powerful, Julia Ann, but take care of your mental health.  We can't let this pull us under.  The right wing would love nothing more.  If any dittoheads read your diary, they're cheering and gloating.

        "Your silence will not protect you." --Audrey Lorde

        by altruista on Sat Mar 29, 2008 at 01:20:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  They are also I think quite in the minority (9+ / 0-)

          by now... the ditto heads know things are not going well..I hear them on right wing radio sometimes and they are finally getting it..with the bank failure on Wall Street..they are finally getting it..with their family and friends losing houses and equity and the rest of it .. it may finally be sinking in that the illusion is fading... and that is all it is..it is just an illusion..and dream.. an American dream..we are really nothing more than the pretty pictures Hollywood programs us with..

          •  who are the dittoheads BLAMING?... (6+ / 0-)

            ... now that the rot has finally reached THEM?
            They cannot blame the subprime mess on immigrants
            and welfare queens and black criminals.
            They can't blame it on the fact that Jeremiah Wright
            and Michelle Obama hate America.  They cannot blame
            it on terrorists or communists.
            Personally I thought they would start getting it
            as soon as all those bake sales FAILED to pay for
            the medical treatment they needed.
            But in any case, what are they going to DO, exactly?
            WHO they gon' CALL?

            "You can't nice these people to death."-- John Edwards

            by ge0rge on Sat Mar 29, 2008 at 02:04:02 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Really? (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JuliaAnn, Simplify, 123frenchwine

              They cannot blame the subprime mess on immigrants
              and welfare queens and black criminals.

              Of course they will. At this very moment, there are people getting good money to come up with the most effective way of deflecting the blame onto the 'least of these.' It's what they do. Evil pays and pays well.

              I support socialized water

              by jabney on Sat Mar 29, 2008 at 04:37:38 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  another Voltaire quote (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        123frenchwine, 1864 House

        "Excellently observed," answered Candide; "but let us cultivate our garden."

        Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

        by Simplify on Sat Mar 29, 2008 at 08:38:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  excellent advice! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        1864 House

        I think that many of us suffer the overwhelmingness of mitehood, spend a little too much time involved in being splatter-focused on all sorts of global issues while neglecting the areas where we can affect an immediate, measureable difference.

        Spending the time to have rich relationships with family and neighbors is as important as petitioning, demonstrating, fighting against concepts.  You can make a difference, individually, in creating spaces where sense of community edges out the sense of alienation, and it's more mentally sustainable to be in the process of creation than demolishion.  

        Every little act of kindness, care, decency makes the world a better place, you know.

        I think it was Mother Teresa who said something along the lines of 'I'll not join in a demonstration against war.  Instead let's demonstrate for peace.'  It's a wise way of thinking, to use your energy to promote the world you want rather than give those who are working in opposition to your values something to react to.

    •  Thanks JulieAnn (14+ / 0-)

      The overwhelming feelings you describe are so familiar.

      Not really sure what to say, though O do think the suggestions of a break from it all are good advice. Too many things too little time, it seems that all we do is slog along and do what we can hoping against hope that it makes some small difference.

      peace

      Edwards Democrats ActBlue LA-01, NC-08, IN-06, KY-01, NC-09, IA-03, WA-08

      by LaEscapee on Sat Mar 29, 2008 at 01:31:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  My off-the-cuff assessment? (8+ / 0-)

      You're too bright for your circumstances, and you've already met most of life's milestones (got married, had children, etc.), and are struggling with understanding the meaning of your life.

      Two suggestions: pretend your best friend described a major problem she was having, and the details of it are the same as yours.  What would you, seriously, recommend she do?  Now, follow that advice.

      Suggestion Two:  Set a goal to run for office or do community organizing or something along those lines so you can at least be taking steps in a direction you feel will ultimately positively impact the world.

      Fretting while inactive is the stuff of which insanity is born.  ; )

      Good luck!

  •  Very beautifully written (17+ / 0-)

    I am expecting a bride and groom any minute now for a tasting but I want to return to your diary..I make wedding cakes for a living..the brides are so hopeful..some of them are so young and they have long lives ahead of them..

    After this next bride goes on her merry way..we can talk..

  •  Yes. Tipped and rec'd. I have said, since I (17+ / 0-)

    was very, very young; "Think of the average voter. Think of what decides who they're going to vote for. Now consider that one half of the voters in the country are stupider than whomever you're thinking of.

    Do you see our problem here?"

    "The road to gas chambers starts when good people find excuses to justify torture and murder. Feinstein and Schumer are enablers."- Larry Johnson -8.25, -6.21

    by Jacques on Sat Mar 29, 2008 at 01:08:55 PM PDT

  •  Well you're right (11+ / 0-)

    Depressing but right.

    "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it *if* you can succeed." Speaker Pelosi

    by blueoasis on Sat Mar 29, 2008 at 01:09:35 PM PDT

  •  Action is the antidote to despair for me. (10+ / 0-)

    I must be out on the streets making a difference at regular intervals or my despair takes me to dark and terrible places in my mind.  There is so much bad news in the world today and yet the sun is shining and the vigil today went just fine.

    Capitalism is the bastard husband who comes home drunk and knocks down the Christmas tree.

    That would be unbridled capitalism.  We need government regulation to insure a fair marketplace, not the open and free ranging mess we have under Bu$hco.  The place of good government is the insuring of fair play for all players.  That includes business of all sizes and shapes as well as consumers of every variety.  It is the failure of government that allows the economic collapse we see today.

    Peace.

  •  LOL.....JESUS (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JuliaAnn

    lighten up sister.  go lite up a phatty or something.

    life ain't that bad.

  •  Please JuliaAnn (11+ / 0-)

    Remember that despite EVERYTHING it is OK to try to smile, to laugh, to enjoy life. You are only alive now. I suffered from severe depression - it was biochemical, and diagnosed and treated. But I remember my doctor telling me that with neoronal problems, it's tough to tell what is really causing the misery. After the meds kicked in, I still despised much of what I saw in the world, but I was able to experience contentment deep within regardless.

    This may not pertain to you at all - but FWIW.

  •  baking today (7+ / 0-)

    I just need to make something, so I'm just finishing up our famous chocolate chip cookies.  Here's the recipe for about 100

    4 1/2 c. flour
    2 1/4 c. brown sugar
    3 c shortening (crisco, not butter or marg)
    1 tbsp salt
    1 tbsp baking soda
    1 tbsp hot water
    1 tbsp. vanilla
    6 eggs
    6 c oatmeal (whole or quick)
    24 oz choc. chips (or more)

    375 degree oven.  Bake 10 or so min.

    Cream shortening, sugars and eggs with vanilla
    Mix flour, baking soda, salt, & mix, then add water (sprinkle over).  Combine with shortening/sugar/eggs/vanilla mix.  Add in oatmeal & choc. chips.

    Awesome.  Cool.  Freezes well.

    Enjoy!

  •  Honey, step away from the computer (12+ / 0-)

    and go take your kids for a walk in a park (assuming you live where that is possible to do without snowshoes). Please find something else to do other than fretting about our current situation, at least for a few minutes every day. I can get quite as upset as you, and most of the internal roiling does nothing other than upset your own health. Here at dKos, we KNOW that we know more than many others, individually, we have very little effect. You have like-minders here. First, take care of yourself and your family.

    Americans, while occasionally willing to be serfs, have always been obstinate about being peasantry. F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Great Gatsby

    by riverlover on Sat Mar 29, 2008 at 01:39:09 PM PDT

  •  Action is the antidote to despair - Joan Baez (8+ / 0-)

    Americans are a greedy and stupid people, taken on the whole, who worship money and wouldn't recognize truth if it bit them on the collective ass.

    But they have been led into this by corrupt leaders.  With the right leadership/education/deprogramming they can be led back.  I have to believe that.

    Bush is wrong, Cheney is wrong (and they have power); Chomsky is right, Naomi Klein is right, Howard Zinn is right, Michael Moore is right (but they have little).

    Don Siegelman is free and gearing up for a fight.  I sense that the tide is finally turning.  This is the first time I have had real hope that we might turn things around.

    I identify with your despair...but this too shall pass.

    Hang in there my friend.  We need you in this fight.

    Venceremos!  We shall overcome!  :-)

    "The truth shall set you free - but first it'll piss you off." Gloria Steinem

    Iraq Moratorium

    by One Pissed Off Liberal on Sat Mar 29, 2008 at 01:58:47 PM PDT

  •  You live IN A DEMOCRACY (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JuliaAnn

    To say that I would like to sue the government of my country -- for alienation of affection for starters, and severe mental anguish for good measure -- is putting it mildly. I don't say this glibly.

    Wrong -- you Did So Too say it glibly --
    and way TOO glibly at that.  The government does not
    exist in a vacuum, above and beyond the governed.
    At least every 2 years, if the people want a NEW
    or different or better government, THEN THEY GET IT.
    If this change is not happening then that is because
    a lot of the people, being CONSERVATIVE, want to
    CONSERVE some things that they view (however sub-
    consciously)as their advantages.

    My point is that in a democracy, you canNOT blame
    the government.  The government comes FROM THE
    VOTERS and so the ONLY source of responsibility
    IS THE VOTERS.  If things are not going well
    then that is basically because your neighbors are
    voting the wrong way (or, if you live in a politically
    monolithic neighborhood, because co-residents of
    your county or city are voting the wrong way).

    The government is distant and huge and you might
    rightly despair of your ability to influence it
    directly.  But you do occasionally get to have
    actual conversations with people whom you live
    near enough to influence.  Unless those conversations
    are also going equally badly, NOW is way too SOON
    to wax hopeless.

    "You can't nice these people to death."-- John Edwards

    by ge0rge on Sat Mar 29, 2008 at 02:00:00 PM PDT

  •  Oh yeah... (8+ / 0-)

    From one JuliaAnn (my southern relatives say it like one word) to another, thank you for writing this.  I find firing off a letter to the editor about these things lightens the load and my shoulders don't scrunch up to my neck.  
    Send a bag of pretzels to the president through the mail and use a fake name, like "Ophelia Butts," or hold a bake sale and name the goodies "Scooter Libby Pies, etc."  I have a bumper sticker in my car window that has a picture of Bush holding the phone wrong-end up that says "Use small words, Bush is listening..."  You'd be surprised how many people approach me in the grocery store parking lot to point and laugh their bums off.  
    I also always turn the pineapple cake mix box upside down on the grocery shelves (nothing to do with politics, it's just fun)  and leave little peach colored post-its on the peaches that say "IMPEACH BUSH!" I'm 50 years old but still wondering what I'll be like when I'm all grown-up.
    In the meantime, you're not alone.  Hang in there...

    Let's face it... everybody is somebody's weirdo.

    by NapaJulie on Sat Mar 29, 2008 at 02:25:26 PM PDT

    •  I'm going to borrow some of your tricks (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      acquittal, churchylafemme, Pariah Dog

      Now my kids will really think I've gone bonkers. But the action -- and the laughs -- will do me good. Thank you. And my mother used to say "Julia Ann" like one word, too -- when she was mad and really meant business.

      "There are four boxes to use in the defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, ammo. Use in that order." Ed Howdershelt

      by JuliaAnn on Sat Mar 29, 2008 at 08:30:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Napa J. (0+ / 0-)

      I like your style, girl.

      Civil disobedience, especially the kind that doesn't really hurt anything, is a great mental massage.

      Wonder how long it'll take to mow the words Impeach Bush in the lawn? I have a huge lawn. Look for it on Google Earth.

      Meddle not in the affairs of dragons... for thou art crunchy and good with ketchup.

      by Pariah Dog on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 03:37:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Try sourdough (7+ / 0-)

    Bulding awareness is dangerous without developing the capsity to hold it.  I learnd in a mystical text that if one were to suddenly become aware of all the harm they have brought into the world, in one instant, one would be so filled with remorse, one would cease to exist.  And, on the other hand, if one were to suddenly, in an instant, realize how much joy they have brought into the world, one would be so overwhelmed with joy and connection, one whould also cease to exist.  The human is just incapable of holding that much awareness.  So we have systems that filter it all out.  

    I have an insatiable hunger for awarness; and I would go nuts with it all if not for the daily meditation practice I have developed to sit with it all, every morning, the first thing I do.  I just sit silently and take in as much as I can.  

    I do what I can to fix the world and I certainly know I contribute to the problems in the world.  But I didn't create these systemic problems and I am humble enough to realize I don't know the master plan; ie where this is all headed.

    Despair is a survival mechanism in me that comes up when I realize I have just taken too much in; more than I can hold.  REalizing my how helplessness to help all those who suffer so I can live the lifestyle I do; it's just more than I can take.  Yet, I won't stop trying to take it in.  Whatever the cost, I know my life's purpose is to take in as much awareness in this lifetime as I can.  

    I nurse my despair on political blogs; just moving from one false hope into another.  I have long-term optimism; but we are in for a major correction in the way we live and I have been preparing myself for the changes.  

    Thanks for the knowledge that I am not alone in this movement in and out of despair; and knowing that others are struggling to take in as much as they can too.  

    Unsustainable is unsustainable, which means it will eventually end.

    by Must Have Been The Roses on Sat Mar 29, 2008 at 03:05:21 PM PDT

  •  I try a bit of the Daily Show, the Colbert Report (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    opinionated, JuliaAnn, 123frenchwine

    and Bill Maher to lighten up.

  •  a beautiful piece of writing (8+ / 0-)

    and the soul that wrote it still has a lot to contribute.

    I totally empathize and breathlessly wait for your next diary.

  •  Nice diary, JuliaAnn. (5+ / 0-)

    I hope that, for you, hope wins out.

    Special thanks to Avila for rescuing this diary. Most deserved.

    "The opposite of war isn't peace, it's CREATION." _ Jonathan Larson, RENT

    by BeninSC on Sat Mar 29, 2008 at 08:28:07 PM PDT

  •  Wow, thanks to Diary Rescue - I would... (8+ / 0-)

    have missed this wonderful diary. JuliaAnn, you are not alone - not by a long shot.

    Bravo!

    "The thing about life is you always have to keep something on the to-do list." Alan Shore, Boston Legal, 2-12-08

    by va dare on Sat Mar 29, 2008 at 08:28:33 PM PDT

  •  Couldn't have said it better myself (9+ / 0-)

    I'm a writer who can no longer write because my despair--which you detailed so eloquently--has drained my creative energy. (I, too, search for those confirming headlines...I just want it all to begin already, I can't stand the waiting, it is like a crescendo that goes on, and on, and on...)

    You may be in despair, but you can still express it, you can still feel and think. I am almost mute.

    Thank you for speaking for me at a time when I have lost my words.

  •  I am so glad they rescued this (4+ / 0-)

    I try not to fall down into the well you are describing, but there are days where my anxiety, and frustration at our willful blindness to everything that is going wrong that I feel like that scene from Network.

    I worry about what is going to happen to the environment, the food supply, our country, water, an endless barrage of shit that is going fatally wrong.  I also wait for the other shoe to drop...and sometimes I just have force myself into diversion.  Something frivolous, something to take my mind off it, something to make me quit worrying at it like your tongue worries on a sore tooth.

    Good luck on finding your frivolous thing.

    There are bagels in the fridge

    by Sychotic1 on Sat Mar 29, 2008 at 08:59:36 PM PDT

    •  Livin' in the frivolous... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sychotic1

      The frivolous thing to take our minds off of it... sounds wonderful.  I've turned to some frivolous things - some healthy, some not so healthy.  But it's hard not to stay there, y'know? It's hard to get back to the grind if that's how we see it - the grind.
      Hopefully, if it is a frivolous thing, a temporary diversion from what we feel is keeping us away from working to achieve that which makes us whole and complete, hopefully we can see that living full time in frivolity tends to be like hiding from a rock fight in a glass house.  Eventually - hopefully once we're renewed and have some bastion of peace - we might be able to re-engage in bringing about the good we seek to see and strive to live to bring it about.  JuliaAnn, thank you for your thoughts.  I cherish them because I find myself in similar places.

  •  The Essense of Existential Despair is (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    exmearden, the fan man

    that idea of the existentialist's that we are alone in the universe. With this comes the idea that our lifespan is defined by our corporeal existence.

    In my reality I find great comfort in the idea that the idea of lifespan no more accurately circumscribes my existence than the length of a wave does the ocean. In the times when I don't remember this, I believe I often share the emotional outlook of the diarist.  

  •  Designed to make us crazy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gretel, scrubjay

    The world appears to be designed so that the aware go crazy - either that, or awareness is a form of insanity.

    Remember, you are not alone, far from it.
    You are facing a true, difficult problem.  Do not be hard on yourself, neither because you feel despair, nor because you cannot cure the world.  (Most importantly, follow my advice rather than my example.)

    The contemplatives advise just sitting in an open and non-judgmental state, being with the feeling of despair, and recognizing the human-ness of that condition.  They say it will cultivate  compassion and equanimity, from which right action can spring.  So far I find myself more centered but no-less conflicted.

    If the contemplatives approach interests you, see Pema Chodron's "When Things Fall Apart."  For my part, the contemplative approach is worth the exploration, though it has not made the problem go away.  But if despair is the permanent companion of awareness, an expanded view of ways of relating to our own lives is an improvement. (Though there are days when I do not remember that.)

    But larger, find some way of seeing your corner of this struggle as not your condition, but the human condition. And see it as not rooted in this time only, but as being more-or-less constant. It is the patterns and floods of awareness that probably changed, not the prevalence of reasons for despair in our world.

    If you get there before I do and it then becomes obvious what the right action is in a world that seems desperately to need saving, please write and let me (us) know.  It would help me to know I am not alone.

  •  Could I ask ... (0+ / 0-)

    what put you over the edge?  I get this way regularly.

  •  yup. (0+ / 0-)

    My despair has wound its way to desperation.

    I see that I imply a range there, between despair and desperation. Having written it down, I find I'm not so certain.

    Wonderful writing, painful recognition.

  •  How did you get inside my head? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nerdsie, scrubjay, Pariah Dog

    I thought it was only me.  I have no cup of sugar, and no real solutions to offer, but having quaffed my vinegar for the day, I sincerely thank you for the validation.  

    There are days, weeks, even months, when I am simply incapable of functioning in our society in any meaningful capacity.  The dissonance is too great.  Today, however, was not one of them.  Today, I helped plant 4,004 little white crosses in the local park in preparation for tomorrow's anti-war rally.  

    There are approximately 100,000 people living in this area.  Exactly seven showed up to help.  Plus four more who traveled more than 100 miles to be here, and will make that trip again tomorrow because a four-hour carpool is still cheaper than a night in a motel room.  

    While we were planting crosses in the park, an elderly couple arrived.  They had come to find their grandson's cross to leave a picture and a yellow ribbon.  They thanked us for honoring their grandson.

    It was not much, certainly not a whole cup, but it was enough sugar to enable me to face another day here in Pleasantville.  

    Soldier on, JuliaAnn, as best you can at any given moment.  The alternatives are few, and do nothing to improve the situation.

  •  The Onion and Random Acts of Kindness (0+ / 0-)

    I was going to suggest to sometimes check out The Onion, but I see it's already on your BlogRoll. The best article I ever saw on that was about "Outrage Fatigue" http://www.theonion.com/... .  It hit the nail on the head and made me laugh so hard, especially the last part of the last paragraph.  I'm wiping away the tears of laughter as I type (I just reread it).

    But as well as getting some relief from The Onion, or taking your kids to the park and such, another thought is being in the moment everytime you give someone, or make someone, smile. Or let someone merge - just the random acts of kindness you can do day after day for others, whether they are strangers, friends, neighbors, or your close loved ones.

    Concentrating on those moments when they happen and then for a little while afterward helps push aside a little bit of the despair.

    Thanks for the post.

  •  Helps to silently sing the Life of Brian classic (0+ / 0-)

    Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

    Some things in life are bad, they can really make you mad
    Other things can make you swear and curse
    When you're chewing on life's gristle, don't grumble -- give a whistle
    And this'll help things turn out for the best, and...

    Always look on the bright side of life
    Always look on the bright side of life

    If life seems jolly rotten, there's something you've forgotten
    And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing
    When you're feeling in the dumps, don't be silly chumps
    Just purse your lips and whistle, that's the thing, and...

    Always look on the bright side of life
    Always look on the bright side of life

    Life is quite absurd, and death's the final word
    We must always face the curtain with a bow
    Forget about your sin, give the audience a grin
    Enjoy it -- it's your last chance anyhow, so...

    Always look on the bright side of death
    Just before you draw your terminal breath

    Life's a piece of shit, when you look at it
    Life's a laugh and death's a joke it's true
    You can see it's all a show, keep 'em laughing as you go
    Just remember that the last laugh is on you, and...

    you think you're so clever and classless and free, but you're still fucking peasants as far as I can see- J L

    by the fan man on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 07:14:17 AM PDT

  •  Melancholy is ... Happiness isn't.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    winterbanyan

    Lord Byron famously wrote: "Melancholy is truth's telescope, bringing reality all too near in utter nakedness."

    JuliaAnn, I do understand your melancholy.  If we allow ourselves to view our world in terms of its problems -- too many seemingly too unsolvable -- it is unbearably bleak.  But there's a reason despair is one of the seven deadly sins, for it grows from a base of the worst sin of all ... ingratitude for our many blessings.

    I'll echo the advice of others who suggested that you take a break from Involvement for a few days, but for a different reason.  We can, and often do, become too Involved.  Worse, we get too Involved in things that we can't change and miss the opportunities that rain on us every day.  Worse still, the blessings we've been given and are given get relegated to the inconsequential, beneath our attention.

    Worst of all, by taking pride in our Involvement, while missing the opportunities and blessings in our lives, we give ourselves tacit permission to let our hearts, families, and communities crumble while we -- heroically alone, or so we think -- ponder the Big Issues.

    Emmanual Kant wrote that it is incumbent upon each generation to address the problems given it.  This is perhaps only a macro perspective of the Biblical admonition to "worry not for tomorrow; sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."

    We can't fix the world Once And For All.  Worse, when we try, we curse our descendants with our own shortsightedness.  Lord Balfour firmly believed he was doing good, and perhaps he had only the noblest of intentions, yet the international problems we face today are the harvest of seeds he planted in 1919, after The War to End All Wars.

    So I offer you this thought, JuliaAnn.  It's one I try to remember every day, usually with only mixed success:

    Happiness isn't getting what you want; it's wanting what you have.

    Look at your life.  It is filled with things that you once wanted: a family, a home, pots and pans and kitchen knives and furniture and the dress that was so perfect and ... and ... and....

    Now want them all ... again.

    Want that special way your children laugh.

    Want that special book that always makes you smile.

    Want that little nook in the bedroom where your keepsakes stand sentinel over your hopes.

    Want that recipe that made your mouth water and your heart swell with satisfaction the first time you cooked it.

    Want that newfangled sweeper-mop that made your kitchen floor less of a hassle.

    Want that quiet kiss from the one you love.

    Celebrate those things, every day.  Be grateful.

    Then, and only then, be Involved.

  •  Despair and Hope (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jlynne

    Despair is the only appropriate response to the current wave of evil under the sun. Paradoxically, there is hope in despair.

    The nearly incomprehensible selfishness, greed, and mad narcissism of the glorified used car salesmen running this country for the last 100-plus years has now generated two murderous, criminal foreign invasions and for-profit wars within 40 years of each other, and two major economic meltdowns within 80 years. Their hysterical greed now threatens to demolish the earth itself, and in the end they just may destroy everything, including themselves.

    The political system is the servant of this ruling class. Yet the majority of Americans continues to believe that this same political system, if we just choose the right people, can stem the tide of calamity. Clearly, the majority of us are way too opitimistic, hopeful, and gullible. Only people like yourself seem to realize how bad things really are, and how impervious to change under the present circumstances.

    Despair is a good thing, because people who have nothing to lose are willing to do anything, and run any risk. That's the hope at the center of despair.

    Optimists don't foment revolutions, and they're way too willing to forgive, rather than punish the guilty. And I'm telling you, sooner or later, we're going to sweep out this country with a stainless steel broom.

  •  Great diary (0+ / 0-)

    This is beautifully written, and very powerful. I agree with the comments that you need to get some air and space. However, I think you're brain is seriously trying to send you a message. By all means continue to promote positive changes in the world around you, but first and foremost your responsibility is to your family.

    Will you be able to eat if the trucks go on strike? Or if the gas stations go dry and people panic buy all the food at the grocery store? The world is very risky right now, and our systems for sustenance are deeply integrated and fragile. Food prices are soaring and food is getting scarcer around the world.

    For millenia, man has looked after his resources in order to survive. It amazes that most modern people don't even know where their water supply comes from.

    Sorry to be a downer, but I think your brain is alerting you to danger.

  •  check my sig (0+ / 0-)

    Sometimes I believe that I was born at the wrong time, in the wrong place, I feel so strongly, as you do, at the utter madness of it all. What would life have been like had I been born 20, 50, 100 years or more earlier? And I don't know that there's ever been a time where civilizations have been satisfied with their place, their condition.

    And I think that despite all of the problems, I'm damn lucky to still be here. And that I'm damn lucky that my son is still here. We both went through medical emergencies that likely would have resulted in death in an earlier era. Hell, since mine was before he was born, I'd have never even had a son.

    Still, maybe we live in a time where we will have to go through a great upheaval. Maybe that's just our destiny, if you believe in that kind of thing. All you can do is be comfortable and at peace with who you are, and what you can do for your children and the world, even if it's only making the smallest bit of difference in the grand scheme of things.

    And as things fell apart
    Nobody paid much attention
    -- Talking Heads, (Nothing But) Flowers

    by wanderindiana on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 01:26:17 PM PDT

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