"Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves"
What I call co-counseling is basically when two or more people come together and 'chop it up' as an old urbanmonk from San Francisco named Ghost used to say. While these sessions sometimes manifest organically, I have found great benefit to prioritizing them. For me, this is a large part of my week-to-week life. I drop some knowledge with some of my close people three or four times a week.
Yesterday I went down to the beach for a baseball catch with two of my closest friends these days. We had a great high-energy spring-training session, despite the afternoon winds, and then we sat, backs against the snack bar, sun over our left shoulders, and we dropped into a brainstorm. We talked about my buddy's current battle with depression. He is in his mid-twenties and like many his age, unsure of which direction to move.
In these talks you often brainstorm theories, finding new ways of understanding the confusion in many of our lives that manifests as depression. At the end of the chat, we often feel closer as friends and we usually make some headway. Sometime you just put things in a new way, a clearer way than you have figured it out before. My clear insight from yesterday: often times, as I observe it, depression is rooted in 1) a crisis of meaning and 2) a crisis of camaraderie.
Where do we find meaning? I have found that in the absolute darkness and confusion of depression, where it feels that nothing is meaningful, nothing encourages you to act, this is where the clarity of vocation can best emerge. In the complete darkness, any light that emerges is powerful, is bright, can be a guiding light.
But one must endure. And this is where camaraderie can carry us through. We can endure tough times and learn to thrive when we are part of some version of a family or team. It is when we feel that we are basically on our own where we are vulnerable to complete collapse.
In another co-counseling session with my friend on the West Coast, I wrote to him this feedback after our phone conversation. He is a writer who is in the tough-time-finding-the-motivation-to-leave-bed phases of depression.
Your assignment, if you choose to accept it:
To write about your life write now
for therapeutic and perhaps publishing benefits;
write freely, but write well.
If you can find the poetry
of the life that is pulsing through you now
even the miserableness of it that you feel
you are intimate with life itself.
Learn to embrace this:
to see it as a gift
a gift that predisposes you to higher high perhaps
and lower lows for sure
but ultimately shapes you
into a greater human being.
This is the faith i am talking about
trusting in this
and knowing that tough times will still come
but they are storms to survive
and learn from and get wiser over time.