Emotional pain and creativity seem to be linked in some way. I have no idea why. I sucked in neuro. Be that as it may, when I am most depressed I am often compelled to write. When I am most in love, I am compelled to write. Yet I repeat myself.
Love and loss seem to be, to this observer, the number one causes of depression. Both Katie and Laura, my two veterinary friends who took their own lives, did so primarily- so far as we know- over relationships that ended painfully.
I ponder this on a cool Arizona evening as I listen to Coldplay and abuse my liver and lungs. I sit on my balcony in my tan barn coat. I prefer to write outdoors as my mind is most free there. I ponder why many of the Greats were truly tortured. I’m by no means great, but I reside in the place Ann Lamott calls “The Land of the Fucked”.
The Land of the Fucked is that address where we suffering souls live. I’m not sure that’s how she defined it, but I define it as those of us who feel especially deeply. We feel others’ pain and our own. We take on others’ burdens without regard to boundaries. We feel tremendous guilt when we fail. We flame out quickly. No one can long survive with the weight of the world on ones shoulders.
I’m not sure one can move from The Land of the Fucked. It’s like The Hotel California. In my case, I hold my mother responsible. She was the most empathetic person I ever knew. Because of her I was born here. I am a natural born citizen of The Land of the Fucked. I even have a birth certificate to prove it (Long Form).
Residents of the LOTF are a pretty decent bunch. We say “hello” on the street. We give a shit. We don’t always agree on the solutions, but we all recognize the problems and want to fix them. We don’t tweet, or grab women by their nether regions or stalk peri-pubescent girls at the mall. Some are R’s. Most are D’s. I used to be an R. I’m not sure what I am now.
In the LOTF we don’t ponder how Jesus would have voted. It’s an irrelevant question. He showed us how to LIVE not how to vote.
In the LOTF we welcome refugees, because we ourselves were aliens in a foreign land at one time.
In the LOTF we care about children not only before they are born, but also after.
In the LOTF we care about the environment, the poor, the disabled, the lonely.
All of this is why we are Fucked. There’s an awful lot to care about. We live in a broken world that we can’t possibly fix. We can only make our little piece of the LOTF better.
And that’s how I cope with living here. I do what I can, which sometimes means nothing. In my own weakness I often have little to give. But like the poor widow in Jesus’ parable, I give what I can.
Living here, drinking deeply from the well of sadness that is our World, is hard. But it’s what I know. I can’t live another way. I don’t want to. The Land of the Fucked is home.
I think it may not be possible to leave LOTF, but I do think you can live on the edge. How, you ask? Well, I used to live here, right in the center of LOTF. I don’t know if I was born here or moved here. I also blame my parents – remember how they always said “Don’t be greedy”, “Think of other people”, “Don’t be selfish”. I know they meant well, but this is the message I got: “Other people are better than you.”
We had to think of others, not ourselves. It was not cool if you bragged about your achievements. And no matter how well you did, “You can do even better, if you try hard.”
In an effort to raise children to be empathic and generous, we had our identity taken away. We were not allowed to be proud, to speak of our accomplishments, to accept compliments.
The way out of LOTF is to love yourself, as you were meant to do. If you don’t love yourself, you can’t truly love anyone else – so what is the point of being selfless?
I’m out here on the edge of LOTF, if you want to join me. I will be waiting.
Thank you for your comment. I agree. We are meant to love ourselves. For example, Jesus taught us to “love [our] neighbors as [ourselves]”. Implied in that statement is love of self.