Thursday, June 19, 2008
I am giddy. Thinking this a funny word, I looked up the definition and found its history to be quite apropos to the way I'm feeling today:
adj. gid·di·er, gid·di·est
a. Having a reeling, lightheaded sensation; dizzy.
b. Causing or capable of causing dizziness: a giddy climb to the topmast.
2. Frivolous and lighthearted; flighty.
intr. & tr.v. gid·died, gid·dy·ing, gid·dies
To become or make giddy.
[Middle English gidi, crazy, from Old English gidig; see gheu()- in Indo-European roots.]
Synonyms: giddy, dizzy, vertiginous
These adjectives mean producing a sensation of whirling and a tendency to fall: a giddy precipice; a dizzy pinnacle; a vertiginous height.
Word History: The word giddy refers to fairly lightweight experiences or situations, but at one time it had to do with profundities. Giddy can be traced back to the same Germanic root *gud- that has given us the word God. The Germanic word *gudigaz formed on this root meant "possessed by a god." Such possession can be a rather unbalancing experience, and so it is not surprising that the Old English descendant of *gudigaz, gidig, meant "mad, possessed by an evil spirit," or that the Middle English development of gidig, gidi, meant the same thing, as well as "foolish; mad (used of an animal); dizzy; uncertain, unstable." Our sense "lighthearted, frivolous" represents the ultimate secularization of giddy.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
By all standards of our society, I should be miserable. I filed for bankruptcy last week. I am unemployed. I don't have the money to pay my property taxes or gas for my car. I imagine that this coming winter Dick and I may be huddling around the oven, living on ramen and wearing three pairs of gloves indoors. We wore hats this past year, so how much lower can you go?
Now, most people would keep bankruptcy a deep dark secret, for we don't talk about money or sex, especially if there's a problem. I figure I'm just on the cutting edge of a big trend, the way things are going in this economy, so I might as well speak the truth. I'm broke.
But look, I'm not living in Burma or Darfur. I have a roof over my head. I have food to eat and occasionally it'll be steak. I have access to books and music and the internet (for I'd rather give up my phone service than that).
I have proven the aphorism that "money doesn't buy happiness". Or maybe it's the other way around - poverty doesn't breed misery (which isn't something I do hear).
What's the cause of my outrageously good mood? Well, the winter's over, for one. But that can't explain it entirely. There have been many Springs, Summers and Falls in which I was miserable. A nice day? Oh no - I couldn't hack it, for it made a mockery of my depression. The warm sun would only make me feel obligated to enjoy something and I could not. I wished for rain and clouds, so I could stay inside, to sleep or just provide cover from that dreaded happy sun.
This winter, I had a grueling depression. I considered suicide in a cold, intellectual manner that, frankly, scared the crap out of me. I thought it was time to go, that I'd had enough, that I was old enough to justify it and it made good sense.
But I'm a survivor and, besides, I truly feel suicide is immoral and a very cruel thing to do to ones' loved ones. I got some help, which didn't put much of a dent in my depression.
Then, one day it ended. Poof! What ended it? I started to draw silly drawings. It's all here: click on "EIIIProducts" in the tags section to the right and you'll find them. Did my depression return when I stopped drawing? No.
I was going to say that I have no idea why this little thing made me snap out of it. But I suspect is was only this: I re-found my sense of humor. Without it, I'd be dead. No joke.
Adding to my outrageously good mood is a new development. I have found a wonderful Sangha (a community of Zen Buddhist practitioners). They are warm, welcoming and very serious. And so, my meditation practice has been reinvigorated. Meditation has been another life saver for me.
Tonight, a dog joined us during zazen. The teacher asked me a question, to which I gave a rather bumbling answer (I am not used to talking about Zen much, if at all). After I spoke, the dog came up to me and licked my nose. I thought "Who could ever ask if a dog has Buddha nature or not?!" I said nothing, but I smiled, a smile of such pure and unadulterated joy.
On my way home, winding through the back roads, the full moon seemed bigger than round. It called to me to wake up to life, even more than I have been doing. I followed the moon and it followed me.
The moon sung to me, the evening gatha:
Let me respectfully remind you,
life and death are of supreme importance.
Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost.
Each of us should strive to awaken... awaken...
Do not squander your life.
Image Note: Yoshitoshi Taiso (1839-1892) "Itsukushima Moon" from the series "One Hundred Aspects of the Moon"