Albert Einstein said the happiest thought of his life was that the gravitational field has only a relative existence. I would love to learn why. Perhaps he took solace in imagining an immediate vicinity in which external forces had no control while living amid the Weimar Republic? Maybe it was simply the pleasure of knowing weightlessness.
I’m not surprised that his happiest thought was about nature. The mysteries of reality are greater things to think about than your own feelings.
I live with depression. I have since I was a child, with varying success. Several times I have lost battles with it and sought emergency care after becoming a screaming mess or endangering myself. Each loss has let me learn more about depression and how to defend against it.
One of my defences is presence. I’ve found that thinking about myself in the past or future brings regret or anxiety. I expect an impossible amount of myself in either and am soon overwhelmed. Instead I strive to inhabit my body and all of its senses.
It is difficult but I work at it, reminding myself with my heartbeat and breath.
My friend Chris recognised depression as a lack of hope. I was fascinated by this since I associate hope with thoughts of the future. The absence of hope reassures me.
There is so much joy and surprise to be discovered in the present. At least that’s what I resonated with in this wonderful phrase:
Feelings are boring. Kissing is awesome.
Which reminded me of an idea shared by Janna Levin:
The emotional dimension is the least interesting part of the human experience.
Of course it’s not as simple as foregoing your feelings. We are animals. We think and feel uncontrollably and our best intentions can falter under the weight of thought because of something as trivial as being idle or eating poorly.
Since learning of Einstein’s happiest thought I’ve been imagining depression as a field like gravity. I love the idea that it too may be relative. We have built aircraft and flown them at the ground to experience weightlessness. Perhaps we can achieve the same by accelerating ourselves.
I run, lift weights, cook, eat vegetarian, study German and read voraciously. Live every day learning and growing. It helps.