On the Steadfastness of Cheer


This is exactly how I feel. (Image sourced from Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book.)

This is exactly how I feel. (Image sourced from Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book.)

Today’s flavor: the dull, heavy, leaden taste of inexplicable anxiety, despondency and lethargy.

It may have been the weekend workshops in which I participated—high intensity affairs that left me drained and susceptible to nine-hour slumbers. It may be the day-long absence of sun. It may even be the full moon.

The thing is, the more I catch myself in these disconsolate moods, the more aware I become of the needlessness of pinpointing their causes. To a certain extent, identifying causes is critical for prevention and mitigation. Beyond a certain point, however, all that can be done is an application of will. Many times, it will suffice to exercise a steadfast cheerfulness, one immune to the vicissitudes of internal states and external circumstances precisely because it is carried out as choice.

Many times, this is all that’s needed to carry the day—and it’s an act of valor whenever the choice is difficult (as it almost always is). Few things are more courageous and magnanimous than containing our inner tempests and restraining our inner demons. To feel keenly that our world is falling apart, yet to continue holding the worlds of others together, is simultaneously the most pedestrian and most profound of our acts of generosity.

If we can refuse to inflict our violence upon another, then even the most bitterly-flavored day will have the slightest tinge of peace.

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