I've recently realized that for most of my life I was a romantic, playing with gauzy notions about life and reality. I gave up on Christianity early in life, but then I sampled all kinds of mystical new-agey things, and constantly mythologized everything, including my life and my purpose. I thought that's how poets were supposed to be. But then about 10 years ago, I lost that magical sheen that was on everything and started becoming a much more reality-based person. Unfortunately, that was also the time I was going through a major depression. And I wonder what was the cause of this major shift in my thinking. Was it the depression? Was it the heavy reading I was doing? Was it just getting older? I don't know, but I do know in some ways I'm a very different person than I once was.
A, I applaud your use of gauzy.
B. I’ve had a very similar experience. Romantic is the best word for it, indeed... when I was younger, I was a romantic; I lived a charmed existence. I had a purpose I didn’t know, but there was something enchanted about living. Then, I suffered a head injury and spiralled into a deep depression. For 13 years, I’ve struggled against those shadows, and though I’m healthy now, I’ve been indelibly changed. I don’t think in the same way I used to. The patterns are all different. I’m much more rational and direct in my thinking. It kind of sucks. And it’s sort of...at least...honest?
Perhaps age is a predisposition to graduating from the romance of youth, but there’s more to it, I’m certain. Depression was my trigger. My rational brain tells me it’s all chemical.
Whatever the reason, I can remember a single, 10 minute window five years ago that I felt like my old self. It was glorious and heartbreaking.
I hope you find the answer you need, my friend. I still remember who I used to be, but the longing doesn’t consume me anymore. I hope you reach a place that you are able to embrace this moment - this YOU - and let him carry you forward.
Great OP, useful comments, I appreciate the post. Even though I grew up unencumbered by any religious affiliation, I too experienced something of an epiphany in my thinking rather late In life. I will not describe in laborious detail the nature of the experience or the long term effects on my thinking here; but I will say that your post struck a resonate chord with me, and I thank you for that.
My world view has altered significantly over the last number of years and recent events resulting from which have further caused great disillusionment as to who am I. It appears that our lives and beings change on our journey and that we cannot step into the same river twice. Oh to be a person for whom things remain the same. The journey might become a bit tedious though. Thank you for your comment. We are all in a state of flux, some of us are aware of it and some of us are not. The challenge laid down to us is to know who you are today regardless of the changing world around us. It is all about identity. Know thyself! That is something not very readily achieved in this world when one is surrounded bypeople who are set in their ways? Maybe they are the lucky ones?
(Beautiful) Thinking over your experience with the 'new age' ..stuff, I can not think of one person into that who wasn't raised in religion.. Perhaps its a transitioning period or opportunity? Allowed to remain atheist growing up, anything 'new age' instantly smacks of religion, to me...
Depression can be jarring, at best. But what an opportunity to reassess... For me, letting go of many things I'd held dear, while holding on to those that truly were, allowed me passage through a long dark tunnel.. Out, or further out every day, much has changed, but much has remained the same. I suspect that's where wisdom comes from
Many years ago, when I was down and out after a divorce, a neighbor gave me a copy of “Help Yourself to Happiness” by Dr. Maxie Maultsby Jr. For me it was like flipping a switch. After one of the exercises I felt much better, and I continue to this day using his method. It might not be for everyone—I’m just saying what helped me.
Every second of conscious awareness is a precious, joyous event if only we look at that rather than garbage.
Giving up our illusions can be fucking hard. When something that deep and fundamental changes it's easy to flail about, lose our emotional grip and fall into despair. I know I have. There may even be some grief about the loss of your old self. With you in the struggle.
Strange, isn't it — how some of us seem to go through enormous shifts in our personalities and methods, and others seems pretty constant throughout their lives?
Personally, I'm so much more content to have lost all that credulous, supernatural thinking that hung around me in my twenties (I can remember, in a moment of skintness, asking a friend if his Wiccan mum could work up a spell to bring in some money for me). I've never had a belief in deities, but I was quite content to buy into airy-fairy ideas about tweaking the cosmos in my favour... How that was supposed to work without some kind of supernatural intelligence to pull the strings, I don't know.
Without all that stuff though, don't you find you have a lot more room in your head? More acceptance of your situation and your ability to control it? More peace?
I think it's about aspiring to better things. To try to give life meaning. Poets and religious folk share a search for meaning. I gave up religion late in life. I seemed to shift quickly and naturally (for me) into art and culture. It's not real in the sense of eternal but it gives my current life meaning as I read more and more about what it is to be human and how we developed over history. In one sense, all I'm doing is diverting myself from reality. In another sense, my head is full of the richness that culture give us through art, literature, theatre etc. I hope you too have or find something (or indeed, someone) to love, to give meaning to life.
I wrote this many years ago, on much that theme.
In Search Of Truth
Earthquakes, plagues and conflagrations
Ripped apart earth’s diverse nations
As disasters fell from “up above”.
The “good book” told me “God is love”.
Disillusioned, I sought out truth,
With the zeal and passion of my youth.
In search of truth I hugged a tree
But did not find a deity.
I meditated long and deep,
And found the path - to fall asleep.
Everywhere lies mystery,
Lies lies about reality.
Men seek the truth in faith but find
The dogma that lets blind lead blind.
The wrathful God of Abraham
Has caused more hate than any can.
Without such Gods (of man’s invention)
The world would have far less contention.
The greatest religious intoleration
Is the intolerance in a religious nation.
We need good men to tell us to
Do unto others as they should you.
But not fanatics of such conviction
They dictate death for contradiction
Perhaps if we can lay to rest
Fanatic faith, it would be best.
Reject the theories of godly creation:
Priests, Rabbis or Mullahs who cry “Damnation.”
But accept the caring people who
Devote their lives to faith - in you.
Is not, perhaps, the best solution
To keep faith with the tenets of evolution?