words and images by mk swanson
Lame or Awake

Lame or Awake

Key to the Upstairs Bathroom of a House that Doesn’t Exist

Despair lames most people, but it wakes others fully up. —William James

William James’ philosophy has been my companion for the past month. I have used it to help me get a new perspective on my lifelong battle against depression. I think James might be helping in a way that therapy and drugs never have, as he addresses my abiding fear: that what-is is not worth the trouble of being here.

Today, I read an essay by a writer who is struggling to deal with her parents’ aging, as I am. Hearing my own concerns out of her words made me realize, just as I come to a kind of balance, a place of peace with my own shit, I am stepping onto that inevitable slide toward death. Is that irony or truth?

I feel sad, but my emotions are mostly dulled by a sense that nothing matters. All that is will wash away in a few years, decades, millennia. My presence here is of no importance.

In one way, this nihilism breaks me. In another, it challenges me to wake up.