Ebony and Irony

Two dozen years ago Alanis Morissette had a hit song called “Ironic” which was annoying, for the most part, because most of the situations it described were merely contrasts of opposites, not ironic at all. Getting a free pass when you’ve already paid for a ticket—that, I will grant, is ironic. But rain on your wedding day? Where’s the irony there? Meeting your dream man and his beautiful wife? Awkward, perhaps, but hardly ironic.

Here’s some genuine irony for you. Imagine an author whose latest project is writing a book about depression. He wants to describe the condition, offer some helpful explanations of depression and some workable remedies, and—most important—make it clear that Christians can face depression in this sin-polluted world. Christians should not feel guilty about being depressed. (What a spiral into deeper darkness!) Christians should let no one tell them that, if they had more faith, they would not be depressed. Christians should stop expecting joy and flowers every step of the way. They should believe Jesus when he says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit… blessed are those who mourn… blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sale.” Christians should rediscover the meaning of “the dark night of the soul,” the time when faith grows strongest because it has no distractions from the power of God’s promises.

So, this author tries to write. But the writing goes slowly, because… the author is depressed. COVID-19 shutdowns and mask wars on social media and the politicalization of every event under the sun has this author too discouraged to put into words his lessons on depression. He wants to address how physical challenges and mental challenges and emotional challenges and spiritual challenges can share responsibility for a person’s depression; he also wants to discuss how the solution to depression includes physical factors and mental factors and emotional factors and spiritual factors. Maybe the July heat and humidity and clouds and thunderstorms are interfering with the author’s creativity. Maybe the author needs to take a week’s break from news sites and social media. Maybe some spiritual enemy wants to keep this book from being written. Or maybe, just maybe, the topic of depression is just too depressing for some authors to address at book length.

Isn’t it ironic?

I had two dreams last night. In one of them, I was playing in the outfield for the Chicago Cubs. I was not in uniform and had not signed a contract with the team, yet there I was between center field and right field during an official ball game. Twice I had to field ground balls that had found their way past the infielders for a single. In the other dream, I was visiting an old flame. (I hope you know what that means; I’m in no mood to stop and define my terms.) To me, the visit seemed awkward and I felt that I should leave. But she said she was happy for me to be there and encouraged me to stay. Now that I am awake, the dream puzzles me. It would far better match my frame of mind, short-term and long-term, if I had wanted to stay and she was insisting that I leave.

What does it mean?

We have passed the half-way mark of the eventful year 2020. I have the instrumental portion of Kansas’ “Song for America” running through my head, which is a worthwhile soundtrack for this summer afternoon. The cats are resting; the house is quiet except for an occasional outdoor rumble. I hope that your day and your summer are going well. J.

24 thoughts on “Ebony and Irony

  1. What if you’ve already explained your own dream about the old flame? You say your actual state of mind is the opposite of what it was in the dream – perhaps it’s your mind’s way of telling you to not give in to temptation, and choose the road that’s best for you regardless of what the other wants. In the dream, you walked away. Maybe it tells you it’s time to change your mind in real life.

    I don’t know, really. Sometimes dreams are very clear and sometimes they’re really not.

    I hope you’ll find a way out of this, J. I’ve been depressed and I know how heavy it can weigh. But I also know it doesn’t have to break you per se. Choose what’s right for you, take good care of yourself and put your own health first.

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    • Thank you, Samantha. One odd twist to the matter is that I remembered the baseball dream first but also had a sense of happiness that did not match the baseball dream. Then came memories of the old flame dream. For some reason, that had me feeling good. But right now, finding the energy to sit down and write is a problem. J.

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      • Energy is scarce sometimes, J. Take what you have and don’t forget to take enough time to replenish. Of all the “musts” in the World, we always must take care of our health first, don’t forget. I hope things will get better for you soon.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I could use some replenishing right now. I’m not even sure where to look for it. Inside those two dreams, I was happier than I have been for a while. J.

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  2. I can certainly relate as I find myself so overwhelmed with ridiculous events that change daily I can’t think straight and thus my writing suffers. Hope you fell better soon.

    On a side note the Ironic song really did have some dumb lyrics. Rest of the album
    was pretty good though!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My condolences.
    I have experienced depression since age 7 for periods of time. Being lectured on how sinful it was only made it last longer. And I felt worse.
    I highly recommend Dr. Daniel Berger’s book Rethinking Depression.
    Since both dreams are about serendipity maybe God is using your subconscious to bring you hope as you sleep.

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  4. I think it means it’s just a couple of random dreams. It seems you have two choices… shrug it off, or, devote reality time to interpret them… and likely find no resolution.

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    • @Doug

      Well, that was not hopeful.😜😝😛

      @Salvageable

      Joseph I ain’t. I don’t even remember my own dreams well. When I do, it seems I have too much control over them. So prophecies they ain’t.

      My guess is that you are the author who wants to write a book on depression. Generally, I write what I what I want to write, and that doesn’t include a book. So I don’t have much serious advice. I just suggest two strategies that suggest how an engineer would approach the matter. When we build something complex, we have to make sure we don’t forget something.

      So, the first strategy is to write the book in phases. Phase 1 is outline. Phase 2 is detailed outline. The phase 3 outline includes references. Phase 4 requires reading all your references and seeing if you can discover anything you want to include in or exclude from the book. Phase 6 is rework your outline. Anyway, the basic approach here is to go through the entire project over and over again until you are satisfied with and familiar with you work.

      The second strategy is to divide the project into parts. That, of course, is the point of an outline. A complex problem becomes easier to resolve when we break it into parts.

      Somewhere I remember reading that it took Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu 21 years to write The Spirit of the Laws. Considering that the framers of the Constitution borrowed from his ideas, I am grateful he kept at it. I just hope you don’t take as long.

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      • Thank you, Tom. My dad is an electrical engineer and my son is a mechanical engineer, so I certainly have engineering in my DNA. (Enough to notice that you skipped from phase 4 to phase 6 without a phase 5.) And I do write from an outline, which is always helpful. Part of the problem right now is that, in the shower or mowing the lawn, I can think portions of the book in wonderful, eloquent, organized sentences and paragraphs. Staying seated on the chair and getting fingers tapping on the keyboard to put those sentences and paragraphs in a place where they can be shared–there’s the rub. The book is a summer project, which means I might be finished before Christmas. And I, too, am grateful to Montesquieu, second to John Locke in forming the ideas and principles upon which our government is based. J.

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      • I am guessing your depression manifests itself a bit with some obsessive compulsive impulses. Numbers, ie. math.. and your engineering “gene” tend to be “comfort” areas… numbers are orderly, can be placed in order, are never arbitrary or ambiguous. There are rules to follow when using numbers… and routine is comfortable. The reason I asked if you were musically inclined as well is that sometimes with certain levels of depression music can convey that which you find difficult to convey… an alt-language of sorts. Yet the patterns of notes express a tone… and while the patterns themselves are infinite in their combination… you can create a tone to fit a mood of the moment… or simply bang the keys for expression of pain. I wasn’t being as flippant as you thought I might have been when I suggested those alternatives in responding to your dream post. I am sure you’ve struggled most your life with this.. and for that I am deeply sorry. I know it’s a constant struggle to cope with the feelings.. and I hope any past therapy has been a help. I could query more.. but not sure this is the place. I hope this isn’t a family trait and your offspring was spared.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Doug, I think you have grasped much of what I was trying to say. Obsessive-compulsive impulses, but not to the level of a disorder–definitely. And that runs in the family. Perfectionism, to the point of not being able to accept a sincere compliment, also runs in the family. Math and music are also strong in my family. The discord I was reporting was, in the middle of a dark and gloomy period in which I find myself unhappy about almost everything that is happening, I should dream first that I’m playing baseball for the Cubs, and second that my old flame actually wants to spend time with me. I’d rather go back to bed and have more of those kinds of dreams than keep on struggling with this book. J.
        PS I hope your summer is going well and you are finding satisfaction in your work and hobbies. J.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for your well-wishes. While I have gotten relatively disinterested in my own blog of late given all the national chaos.. I have managed so far to avoid the virus, as that would likely be a death sentence to me… if nothing else, I fear surviving it in a diminished capacity. Still working. I find myself in a curious mental attitude…. the milestone of reaching 70 in January seems to be haunting my perceptions of my hobbies and projects in general. I keep working rather than retire because I am in age denial; if I stop working then that’s another door in life closing. Yet my job is a mindless occupation, often for those being put out to pasture. While my “age depression” is certainly not as clinically profound as in your instance, it remains more a daily shadow than overtly impactful.
        You’ve not said if you are subject to night terrors.. certainly your last dream sequences would be very welcome.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Doug,
        Night terrors are not a problem. Lack of energy is the real enemy. I seem to be wanting more than ten hours of sleep a night. And, while I’m a dozen years behind you age-wise, I am already aware of diminishing opportunities in the career field. I had hoped for some major changes this year, but nothing has changed for the better. J.

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      • Yep.. this year certainly has been a wash for most everyone.. to say the very least. If we escape the virus unscathed that’s certainly a plus. Sleep and fatigue is also a sign of certain depressions as well. Although it could also easily be something physiological. Had a checkup lately?

        Liked by 1 person

      • @Salvageable

        The checkup recommendation, if you have not had one here of late, is a good idea. If you are needing significantly more sleep than usual, you should check that out.

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    • Thank you, Tom and Doug. In my book, I do speak of physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual factors in depression. A physical check-up is among my recommendations. The fact is that I wore a heart monitor for a month already this summer. I won’t get a final report on what they found, if anything, for a few more days, but I suspect they will have found nothing. Meanwhile, trying to write about depression is possibly triggering feelings of depression. If the result is a book that is helpful to others, then I guess it is worth having a few down weeks this summer. J.

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      • Absolutely! Writing is excellent therapy and can also provide a focus of thought from which you might draw further strength. I should also point out.. that many times a good spiritual base can help as well. Tom would have a better sense for that than myself.

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