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on despair and endurance
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(1) Via a sister FAKE fan: L.M. Montgomery's granddaughter breaks silence about her grandmother's suicide, in hopes of helping others:

I'll never know if my grandmother might have been inclined to seek help if she had lived in a less judgmental era or if she had had access to supportive therapy or the medications available today. I would like to think so.

I long to tell her how I wish her family could have known how to help her and how proud we all are of her accomplishments. I also wish that, while my father was still alive, my family could have helped one another more by talking more openly about our feelings around her death. We realize now that secrecy is not the way to deal with the reality of depression and other mental-health issues.

(2) One of my best friends in high school introduced me to Anne of Green Gables. I have been thinking of her, and also about an aunt who killed herself my second year of college.

(2a) I mentioned the aunt in a poem that was published in the Detroit Metro-Times ten or so years ago, and that my pal Socrates has taught to a couple classes' worth of students (and you can bet I am never going to stop feeling thrilled about that); I'll repost it here once I re-excavate that corner of my study.

(3) Via the 9 October issue of Fermilab Today: Friday 10 October is National Depression Screening Day (page links to free local and online screenings).

(4) "A little wisdom is a relentless thing; / everywhere I look, something shatters." - Jacqueline Osherow, "The Hoopoe's Crown" (anthologized in Poetry Daily Essentials 2007, which is a marvelous collection).

(5) I didn't watch the presidential debate earlier this week, but I could hear a near-constant stream of snark from the BYM directed at its participants. I suspect I got the better show.

(6) The University of Chicago Magazine's current cover story is about Barack Obama's U of C-ness. The article quotes Reinhold Niebuhr: "Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary." It also says this about Obama's ability to manage multiple POVs as demonstrated during his years at the Law School(emphases mine):

Obama’s legal arguments were empirically, not ideologically, grounded, they say, and he listened well to opponents. His disagreements weren’t vehement. Geoffrey Stone recalls his "intellectual empathy." Adam Bonin, JD’97, a former student, says Obama made sure every point of view got aired in class. "If he wasn’t hearing it from a student, he’d make the argument himself," Bonin says. Baird explains his ability to see complexities. "At the Law School, you don’t expect to get up and say something like, ‘Affirmative action is an obvious good,’ and get no argument. Constitutional law, voting rights, affirmative action—these are complicated topics, and he was good at thinking about them in a complex way, at hearing different points of view and defending his opinion."

(7) Early voting starts in Nashville next Wednesday.

(8) There are times I can barely stand how little I've gotten a handle on since high school, but little by little, I've learned ways to manage certain aspects of that strain of despair. One strategy that stood me in good stead earlier this week has been this: the best way to recover from dealing with someone impossible is to make a point of doing something nice for someone else. (I.e., someone being mean or unappreciative of something I've done = my cue to go find some other people's work and then thank them for sharing their gifts with me. Which is something I aim to do more of in general, but this week making a point of doing so helped calm me down when I found myself inordinately irritated and upset at various asinine goings-on (some of my own making, GAH).)

(9) Last Sunday's morning services were centered on the theme of loving in spite of loss. They opened with "A Promise Through the Ages Rings," a favorite hymn I seldom get to hear outside of Easter (though I've been known to sing it to myself in my car throughout the year). Its verses include:

A life is made of many things:
Bright stars, bleak years, and broken rings.
Can it be true that through all things,
There always, always something sings? ...

For something always, always sings --
This is the message Easter brings:
From deep despair and perished things
A green shoot always, always springs,
And something always, always sings.

And the closing hymn was "Just As Long as I Have Breath":

Just as long as I have breath,
I must answer 'Yes' to life;
though with pain I made my way,
still with hope I meet each day.
If they ask what I did well,
tell them I said 'Yes' to life

Just as long as vision lasts,
I must answer 'Yes' to truth;
in my dream and in my dark,
always that elusive spark.
If they ask what I did well,
tell them I said 'Yes' to truth.

Just as long as my heart beats,
I must answer 'Yes' to love;
disappointment pierced me through,
still I kept on loving you.
If they ask what I did best,
tell them I said 'Yes' to love.

(I've told my church's music minister that I will somehow find some way to haunt him if "Spirit of Life" gets played at my funeral (it's the UU hymn everyone else loves that I personally cannot abide), but "Just As Long As I Have Breath" is one I do want on the program. Not that I'll be in a position to care by then, but I hope -- pray, even -- that I'll have lived the kind of life where, for those gathered to celebrate it, these verses will ring more true than not.)

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