Golden Shower: Stealing Your Misery For The Lord

Occasionally a feeling of depression or melancholia will fall over me. It often happens when I have work that requires deep concentration for many days in a row. I’ve been at work working on a very long manual. Then something in the real, or rather non-work world, happens that isn’t so good or I get worked up about something, and I slip into melancholia. It lasts for six hours or so and passes. During this period I become deeply self-involved in the miseries of my life, the decay of my body, the abscesses in my teeth; for example, the sudden limp I’ve acquired for some reason. I prefer to think of it as melancholia because there some irony to how intensely I feel this bought of depression. I will think to myself, “I am in a black mood.”


I know a number of people who suffer from episodes of clinical depression and this melancholia, while related, is not as deep or intense or lacking in pleasure. I’m aware of it for one thing. These people I know who suffer from depression suddenly find themselves lost in inertia, a loss of vitality, and are not aware that anything is wrong, exactly, just that existence is painful and sucks. In talking about depression, they don’t think of as a mood so much as a completely physical ailment like the flu or a lost limb or something. I find a degree of pleasure in my dark mood episodes partly because I know it will go away and partly because it makes things seem more pleasurable. I slow down. I walk during my lunch break to the river that flows through the suburban city where I work. The river has cherry trees planted on the banks, a brick walkway, and a wide expanse of running water.

I went to the river to coddle my black mood. As I pondered throwing myself into the river, knowing it was so shallow I would just get the cuffs of my slacks wet; I thought miserable thoughts about myself. I considered the fact that clothes were mostly useful not to conceal nakedness but rather as containment devices, without the border of clothes, people would continue to expand beyond my tight pants, beyond the walls of their cars and rooms, inflating and expand until they were a massive orbs of flesh.

A man in a polo short and worn but clean jeans and very white tennis shoes smiled at me, “Hi,” he said. He was grinning with a brightly lit inner idiocy unaware of the blackness of the world. He interrupted by melancholia reverie, and I grunted mostly because a grunt would be less rude than not saying anything at all. I turned back to the river. He left. I could think my black thoughts to myself.

Some time later, he was standing in front of me with his white shoes. “Are you doing okay?”

“Sure–“ I said.

“My name is John and I’m a Christian,” he said.

“I’m Matt,” I said, “And I’m an atheist,” but even as I said this, I thought it was silly I had to declare myself in negation to his proposition that there was a god. I would sooner declare myself an a-cthulthist. I do not believe in intergalactic squid aliens living at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Why should there be a term of my lack of believe in a single deity from the Levant?

“You don’t look all right,” he said.

“I’m doing fine,” I said.

“Can I pray for you?” he asked.

“I’d rather you didn’t,” I said.

And then he left, smiling at the light he’d shown down on me. I was a pill bug flung from the dank pleasures under my rock.

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