Saturday, January 03, 2009

Feeling no remorse

Papou does battle with the spirit of Robert Johnson

As I write, a little striped chipmunk that lives in a hole outside of my French doors is perched on the stacked firewood. Like all of the fish that wandered around on the ocean floor in the Bahamas, he knows who I am and what I mean. His little pink hands look remarkably human. I’m trying to make friends with the gray neighborhood cat, but I’m worried if I get too friendly he’ll find my friend the chipmunk.

The picture’s a shot I took at a post-Christmas barbecue lunch at the local Sticky Fingers. I find Robert Johnson brooding over our shoulders amusing. He’s the blues guitarist, as I’m sure you all know, who traded his soul to the devil at the crossroads for the ability to play. His eyes seem to mimic those of my Papou, whose life seems to get harder as he gets older. I’ve been thinking about Papou a lot lately, and about aging, and about God and the devil. Papou (or Dr. Spiros Zodhiates, Th.D.) was a writer, too, a Greek exegete and theologian. Maybe he’s the reason that I considered being a professional writer as a legitimate career choice. Now he relies on puffy Chattanooga CNAs to bathe and shave him.

So, hi, everyone. Sorry about my little descent into chaos the other day. I’ve considered posting a retraction, or just deleting the dang thing altogether, but it doesn’t quite feel honest. I’ve always believed that once I write things they belong to someone else, to whoever I wrote them for, and, in this case, I wrote for the whole wide world. So it’s yours now. Not mine.

Maybe that is the point of a blog--it’s catharsis, in its truest, Greek sense. A way for me to purge myself of my own grief and pass it on to the unfeeling World Wide Web.

I admit that it has been a rough month. I received some bad news about an opportunity that I had real hope for, and have had other difficult things going on personally. Maybe the most real outcome from being brutally honest is to realize how real my descent into the bottomless pit of depression can be, and that I need to find better ways to fight it. It’s an ongoing battle, and I have more sympathy for those who struggle with it. I’ve been dealing with it since high school.

So I begin a new year now, with more optimism, more hope. Doors are opening again. Maybe some will stay open this time. Maybe I’ll finally see a path laid clear to the horizon. But in the meantime, I’ll take the next step in front of me. Thanks to all of you who responded with concern and kindness, and I pray the darkness doesn’t close in again.


johnr said...


It seems that you've lost so much of the wonder, excitement and joy you had in your life since you had to leave Secret behind (and Karl, too) Hopefully you'll find some things to restore those feelings. As a sailor tied down to family, job and material things I really 'lived' through you and Karl on your journey and hoped to share more of it with you. Wishing you better days ahead. Johnr

bob said...

I just finished reading your blog. I started reading a few weeks ago, where you entered the Delaware Bay back in November 2006 and ended tonight. I've never read a stranger's blog like this before. There are lots of things that stand out for me, but really one of the things I'm most impressed with is the development in your writing style. I noticed it just before you you left the Bahamas, when you were writing every day, that you developed a strong voice.
I'm disappointed that I'm through. Like, that disappointment when you finish the last page of a good book.
Have you read Bernard Moitessier's, The Long Way? My guess is I'm far from the first person to recommend this book to you. But I want to anyway as I think you'll identify with Moitessier in several ways. His was one of those books I didn't want to finish.
I hope you keep at the blog. That second to last post, that was good, honest writing.

Melissa said...

Thanks for the positive comments. I especially appreciate your saying, Bob, that my last post was "good, honest" writing. It means more than you know. It's hard to press forward with honesty, especially about the darkness. Both darkness and light have always been a part of my life, but as with so many things, the darkness can overshadow the light.

I'm doing better now, trying to decide on my next steps. I saw the movie "Into the Wild" last night, and it made a life of fish and rice on an immobilized boat seem not so bad...