When I find myself in the black abyss I invariably see Francisco Goya’s Saturn devorando a su hijo (“Saturn Devouring One of His Sons”). Goya never meant for these works to be public, he painted them on the walls of his home between the years 1819 and 1823.
There is something truthful in this painting about the experience of depression and this truth surpasses the particular story being portrayed (a Greek/Roman myth about the god Saturn consuming his children) and even moves beyond identification with the characters within the painting. I suppose some may identify with Saturn, I would identify with the child – being consumed by the blackness within. But no, that can’t be right, because there is no consumption with depression – just a continuous consuming. If we could be consumed, then there would be hope – but the consuming is always progressing and yet never advancing – always occurring, yet infinitely stretching forth in duration.
So, while I identify with the mutilated child, I do not consider this to be the truth of the painting. The painting extends beyond the characters to something more – perhaps something which can only be expressed by one like Goya who struggled with his own dark days.
My primary area of theological interest is hell. What an unpleasant topic – and so it is…but I think upon it b/c I experience it…and I know that what I experience could not be the depths of hell, nor the duration of hell. I became sick at the thought of the hell endured by so many in this lifetime alone…I cannot bear to think of suffering beyond this lifetime. But this very abhorrence of the thought pushes me ever towards it, to understand, to comprehend, to know.
Today [yesterday, Friday] I thought the fog had lifted – and perhaps it did lift, for a short time – but it quickly descended again. I did IT consulting today and the ache in my heart was constant and the dis-ease of my mind unending. Towards the end I felt myself fading. I had planned on working more, but I was gone…gone…gone.
Could I have pushed myself further? Sure. I don’t know what limits are. Anything can be done, can’t it? I never know when I have hit my limits, so I simply establish limits – they are arbitrary. I stop b/c I decide to, not b/c I simply can’t go another step…I’ve never reached that place, and am not sure that I ever will unless it is in death.
I knew a guy once who had heart problems due to his ability to just keep going even when his body was beyond fatigued – or perhaps it was his inability to stop or his inability to know that he needed to stop or his inability to accept his limitations. I feel like that.