Monday, July 14, 2014

Lasagna and Depression

I love lasagna. Sure, everybody loves lasagna, but I love it more. If you ever saw me eating lasagna - even just pretty good lasagna - you'd be watching a happy fellow. You'd figure I was born to eat lasagna. But do you know how many times per year I eat lasagna? Maybe once. If that.

There are lots of reasons. It's hard to find good. And it tends to be overpriced. And I try to eat healthy. So lasagna doesn't happen much for me. But the weird thing is how absolutely okay I am with that. It's like The Monks and the Coffee, I suppose.

I could easily work myself into a lather about the lack of lasagna in my life. If I really festered on it, I could create an entire mental landscape of non-lasagna. In the old days, I knew great places I could go for lasagna. They're all gone. Frozen yogurt everywhere now, but no frickin' lasagna. It's all turning to crap! And how about the indignity of needing to eat healthy? When I was younger, I could eat whatever I wanted. But now that I can afford to go to a decent restaurant and really enjoy a lasagna, I need to be austere. A guy who knows all the food in the world, doomed to counting carbs. How ironic and pitiful is that? Worked hard all those years, and can't even enjoy a nice lasagna, which is, after all, something I just love. I'm just not getting enough enjoyment in this gloomy existence, and will doubtless enjoy still less as time goes on, because that's the way of it. Lasagna is just one example of all I've been denied, all injustice and cruelty. I'm living my dark ages! No lasagna, and I love lasagna! I love lasagna!!!

I could whine on. Pages of it. Hours, even days, of it! I have a brain which makes connections, and analyzes the basis of things. I could direct those faculties toward my lasagna deprivation, and easily spin up a mental world of grim desolation, weaving in all my previous disappointments and bitter ironies; a dystopia in which I, unhappy wraith, am forever imprisoned.

But for some reason I just don't!

It's not that I exert mental discipline, or have learned to think positively, or to count my blessings in order to soldier on within this traumatic, tragic situation of non-lasagna eating. I just don't identify with that narrative, because I see it as empty drama. There are so many things to eat, to do, and to enjoy. It takes way more mental energy to obsess over the absent than it does to simply immerse in what's at hand! That's why depressed people feel so worn out; it's tremendously sapping to create, perpetuate, and inhabit a fantasy world built upon What's Missing!

If I don't obsess over lasagna, then lasagna remains what it actually is: something I love when it's in front of me....and a happy memory when it's not. I don't make its absence a symbol of all that's ever gone wrong. Its absence adds no weight to my burden. I hardly think about it. Why would I?

And here's the thing: aside from basic human needs like food, health, and shelter, anything grieved for is unnecessary baggage arbitrarily loaded on by a hyperactive, capricious mind. Anything else is just stories we tell ourselves.

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