Let us be mortal. Let us contemplate existence. ̶̶ Charles Dickens
You can wind up in the not so foreign land of despair with some regularity, telling yourself myriad stories as to why this is the case. For me the term ‘relentless’ is key. Relentless abuse, relentless financial disaster, relentless noise. For a long time doctors convinced me I was bipolar until Dr. Max after three months of observation said the assessment was bunk. I believed him, never labeling myself as clinically ill again. It allowed freedom from that restrictive way of qualifying my behavior and/or thought process. It did not restrict or reign in the intense anxiety or fear of not being able to withstand living.
Contemplating suicide as a solution to my predicament started when I was 15 years old and has not left me completely, although it has tapered down considerably. It is site specific. The persons and things that made this a consideration are generally gone now. The new problems challenge. They do not urge me off the edge, per se. The constant racket of India – its unbelievable volume, length of application and mind-boggling variety leave me exhausted and wildly discontented. They do not make me want to go up to the terrace to take a long walk off a short ledge.
What happens instead arises from constantly searching for solutions other than the aforementioned. This involves a great deal of reading and writing. Making art is a completely different endeavor. While the reading and writing are part of my art practice the space they inhabit contradistincts that of making, in a vital way. It is a different zone from the physical compared to the intellectual.
But I digress.
The point I want to make is that whenever I reach a critical point of destitution, I search for meaning. Often what appears almost magically, is a cure. An intellectual elixir in the form of a person and their words gives me my circulation back and I am relieved. Their words, personality, scope, buoyant my restless self so that I am recircuited to continue happily. This occurred today with Min Lin Lee, author. I received an email about a talk at the Strand in Manhattan. I am very fond of the Strand, being part of my reading culture since I was a teenager. I did not know of the women who were going to be speaking on the current topic of these terrible times being OUR TIME, meaning a time of empowerment and such for women. Taking the stand against all the abuse, the limiting ways of the patriarchal world, the gruesomeness of certain men and their penises.
I began to Google the lineup, reading bits of their work and a few reviews. Ms. Lee stood out after watching a video taped interview. I read her introduction to the 10th anniversary printing of Free Food for Millionaires. While another author’s content made me feel low, Ms. Lee inspired. As a writer who looks to historical information and research, she piqued my interest. We are quite different but there is enough common ground to make her encouraging outlook just the thing needed. After I finish reading Paul Auster and Peter Ackroyd, I will read Min Lin Lee. I will be so much the better for it.