Earlier in the week I quoted from Tony Kushner’s Angels in America re the difficulty, the gut-wrenching pain which can accompany change. I would like to elucidate a bit further on this score. Kushner concludes this description of the intense pain of change with the observation, “And then up you get. And walk around. Just mangled guts pretending.” His point was that at some point in your suffering you must “get up” and “walk around” even if it involves a lot of pretending.
It is very important that we “walk around” but not in the sense of wandering around aimlessly. It is important that we act with purpose and meaning, that we act productively, even in the midst of our suffering. This can be as simple as getting up from bed and getting the kids off to school, or cleaning the dishes, or watering the plants, or visiting a friend. And you won’t necessarily “feel like” doing these things. But it is imperative…if at all possible…to muster up the energy to take action. This can be an effective antidote to the actual abyss of depression which is a debilitating inertia.
Shakespeare in Hamlet noted the importance of action. Hamlet declared, “Assume a virtue, if you have it not.” He then elucidates, though with Shakespearean wordiness, “That monster, custom, who all sense doth eat, of habits devil, is angel yet in this, that to the use of actions fair and good he likewise gives a frock or livery, that aptly is put on.”
And in Hamlet’s famous “to be or not to be” soliloquy he notes that great ambitions and plans are often “sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought” and in the process “lose the name of action.”