In the mornings I sleep to pass the ride; on the commute home, I either make the most of my Netflix membership or I read. I have been alternately reading two books that are slowly becoming more overdue by the day (an expensive proposition, as far as the Long Beach Library is concerned) – Angela’s Ashes and The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, the latter of which is both physically and content heavy. I eventually stopped bringing that book to work, favoring the McCourt paperback.
The Noonday Demon is definitely an interesting book, but at times it seems to lack emotion. It is simply to easy to drown in the science and statistics – to forget that it was written by a person who suffered numerous psychological breakdowns due to crippling depression and anxiety. It is remiss of feeling.
I was flipping through New York magazine today (Wednesday’s commutes are generally reserved for the crossword in the back) and I stumbled upon this beautiful piece by Elizabeth Wurtzel. While I have never read anything by David Foster Wallace, her writing painted such a real picture of his struggle with depression.
I loved this part – not only because of its sentiment, but the eloquent way in which she conveyed her memories of him and her subsequent reflections:
“Looking back, I am just so very sorry he was not less fragile and I was not less crazy. Looking back, I’m not sure which philosophy of life is more sound: the person who is full of regret, or the one who says je ne regrette rien. I am even less sure which mode of thinking finally leads one to say enough is enough, which approach is at long last more tiring.
By appearances, it would have seemed to me that David was doing great, living in Southern California, writing terrific books and pieces, recently married, teaching at a prestigious college. I am not stupid enough to believe that depression does not afflict a person whose life is good, but if he could get by in a hovel in the middle of the Midwest, surely these elements of happy life—love, sunshine, stability—had to be a plus. These things are real, genuine, the stuff depression blocks you from even getting close to.”
I don’t have a simple or neat way to conclude this; I don’t exactly know why Wurtzel’s piece struck a chord with me today, especially since I knew nothing of Wallace before this past week. There was just something about it. I hope you’ll read it and see in it the beauty that I did.
“Life is a train of moods like a string of beads, and, as we pass through them, they prove to be many-colored lenses which paint the world their own hue, and each shows only what lies in its focus.”- Ralph Waldo Emerson