Yesterday, my daily anti-depression walk took me through a meadow where I saw a small dandelion. So what’s the deal?
Well, this field had just been visited by the Grim
Reaper Mower and its friends. First the grumbling monster that razed the waving knee-high grass and left it out to dry. Then the sucking, whining monster that dropped a row of neat big bales. And finally the truck that lifted the bales and took them away.
They had left a barren field. Grass had just begun to make a new start:
Traversing this field, I came across one single tiny dot of bright yellow.
It really was the only one in the entire field. A closeup:
Tiny Splashes of Color
So you are depressed? Then here is the inevitable metaphor, the one you saw coming.
The barren field is your mind, your life. Your once lushly-waving flowery colorful existence, that now sadly has been razed flat by the Grim Monster of Depression. Ugh.
But somewhere in that dull monotonous plain of your depression you may find a tiny hesitant spot of color.
My little flower symbolizes any little moment, however briefly, when you manage to forget how ravaged you are by your depression. Those few seconds when you’re not fretting about yourself: when your feelings of utter hopelessness are pushed to the side, if only for one fleeting instance.
The little lone flower stands for any of those rare moments when, through the gray self-centered haze of your depression, something from the outside comes through strong enough to be noticed.
This can be anything. Some really stupid joke on TV that makes you smile for one brief moment, even when you didn’t feel like smiling all day. Or it could be a bite of hot chili pepper from the pizza that you sat munching so thoughtlessly that you didn’t taste anything before.
The dot of color might even come from a sudden little flash of actual feeling – even if it’s deep sadness – that comes piercing through the numb blanket of depression, bringing some unexpected tears to your eyes. Or else it could be simply when for one moment the task of scrubbing a blackened saucepan claims your full attention, leaving no room for other thoughts. Or…
However depressed you are, I’m sure you can fill in something here for yourself.
The secret here is concentration. You don’t need to wait for that single rare moment when you encounter such a tiny lost flower in the barren field of your depressed day. You can go looking for such experiences. And this you do by trying to concentrate, by consciously focusing not on yourself but on where you are and what you are doing.
If necessary, set an hourly alarm on your phone as a reminder to keep trying this: to fully concentrate for a moment on whatever you see, hear, smell and touch right now. Right where you happen to be.
And when you do this, chances are you will encounter a few more little “flower moments”. For concentration will bring rewards.
When I spotted that single small yellow dandelion in the razed meadow, it made me a little more aware of my direct surroundings. Was there more to be seen? While walking on I kept looking around more carefully, more concentrated. And sure enough I came across another cluster of modest flowering right at my feet:
Concentration is like a pocket knife that can pierce small peepholes through the all-covering blanket of depression. It can bring you back brief moments of color and taste and feeling. The surprise of such moments can be like a reward. And the more you concentrate, the more often you encounter such flowers of mindfulness, the more they will spread.
And anyway, such moments should also be seen as glimmers of hope. Like this one little dandelion proved stronger than the big grumbling monster that had razed everything.
Sorry (Just In Case)
I think my optimism is well-founded. Concentration efforts can really do a lot for us all.
But if my optimism here offends you in the depths of your own depression, if it comes across like I’m not taking your plight seriously enough, then I am sorry for that. I do understand that when we are very depressed, any kind of optimistic advice can look just futile and stupid. So if all this only makes you more depressed, I’m truly sorry for that.
Just remember I’ve been locked in the very same pit where you may be now. It was concentration on little things that gave me back a foothold, that helped me climb out. Even though I keep falling back from time to time, all the way into depression again.
Sometimes, if you try, the mere effort of trying is enough to be helpful – regardless where it will get you.
• tip: I cannot say this often enough. Please try to concentrate. Concentrate. Concentrate. Concentrate: concentrate on anything that’s not yourself.
Author: Henk van Setten