In 1989, I sold a software creation to a publisher. In 1992, my royalty contract turned into a lawsuit, and in 1994, my lawsuit was thrown out of court.

I fell into a depression that lasted a year. I had a lovely wife and two charming young children. In my own memory, I was not abusive with them, but I was no fun to be around. I didn’t initiate unnecessary conversations, and when approached, I answered laconically, literally, pro forma. I was passive aggressive in the original Freudian sense of letting people know how miserable I was.

I spent a year in this mode. One March day, I woke up and said to myself, I don’t want to be this person. I decided to play a different role. I acted differently, I felt differently. I don’t think I became immediately jolly but I was no longer in the same rut. 

Was it a voluntary decision, or did it just feel that way? Could I just have well have decided to stop being depressed a day earlier? Or a year earlier? Is there anything that my friends or family members could have said that would have helped me to find this place sooner? 

I don’t know that such turning points are always available to me, or even often available. But I can keep an eye open, notice what freedom is available to me, and make the choice consciously. 

“Consciously” rather than “willfully”.

1 thought on “Options

  1. Perhaps with smaller stories, hasn’t everyone grappled with anger and depression following unfair or painful outcomes that are not redressed? The maxim that keeps me afloat in the face of injustice is: “I cannot, and would not want to control everyone’s actions, but I must control my own actions.” Slightly retouched, this applies to the hardships of fate, as well. The mantra allows me to quickly overcome any tendency to strike back in hatred or to dwell in despondency. Simply put, neither approach is effective for my own fulfillment, and yielding to them hurts me most of all. If I am not inspired to do good, will must be asserted to force it. Right action is the most safe and effective medicine for a broken heart.

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