By Jack Canfora
It feels like a long time since I’ve posted on here; it’s likely you, with your busy lives crammed with saving democracy, binging various food-themed shows, and (if you’re like me) binging on actual food haven’t noticed my absence, but I certainly have. Much of it has been for a happy reason: I’m the Artistic Director of a new online theater company, New Normal Rep (follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, he plugged crassly), and we’re about to launch our inaugural season, and so: too busy to do much of anything else.
But despite this sense of hope, gratitude, and purpose this project feeds me, I’ve also been battling what Winston Churchill called “The Black Dog” a great deal recently: a gnawing, visceral, unnameable certainty in the complete futility of, well, anything. In less melodramatic terms: depression. Or, in slightly melodramatic terms than used in the previous sentence: Depression.
This particular flavor of Depression has featured an unaccountable irritability at the world and its populace, with the occasional surprise visit from volcanic, formless rages, and a deep sense of numbness and distance from those close to me with a simultaneously attuned sensitivity to the sadness and indelible loneliness of strangers and animals. I saw a man on a subway platform at Penn Station this week accompanied by a ragged menagerie of animals he was selling for “adoption.” Both the man and the animals alike were dirty and careworn, and one dog in particular looked at me with such a piercing and forlorn hopelessness, that I boarded my train with my face mask salty and wet. That poor dog still haunts me. For all I know, she feels the same way about me.
But it doesn’t take objectively pathetic sights to press the trap door button on my emotional armor (See? I’m mixing metaphors. THAT’S how bad). The most prosaic scenes can set my spiraling. There ought to be a word for the ineffable sadness that’s sometimes aroused in observing otherwise ordinary things. For all I know, there is. I can’t imagine the Germans haven’t got that one covered. That seems right up their alley, no?
Anyway, I have no sense of what brought on this deluge of Sad, but I’ve found that it’s often very hard to comprehend the most basic truths about myself, in the same way the simplest and smallest words are often hardest to define. Just as words like “an” and “the” can stump even the most articulate of people to express their meaning, the necessary bits of myself that glue my basic narrative together often glide by unnoticed.
I sometimes feel like a jigsaw puzzle of a solid gray background. As Yogi Berra once explained, “There comes a time in every man’s life, and I’ve had plenty of them.” Objectively, I have much to be grateful for, and much to look forward to. I know that, and remind myself hourly. At the moment, however, I’m not returning my calls to myself. But I will.
Anyway, I’m back. And still here. Sometimes, that’s enough.
Follow me on the Twitter @jackcanfora and @NormalRep
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