Denes McIntosh: Darkness illuminates the stars in the sky | TheUnion.com

Denes McIntosh: Darkness illuminates the stars in the sky

Other Voices
Denes McIntosh

Early one morning a friend of mine said, “I feel sorry for anyone who is not me today.”

Well now, that can certainly be construed as an egocentric, vain, and self-righteous statement if one were looking to criticize my friend. It could certainly be translated as, “I’m better than you. I’m more privileged than you are, and I’m more certain of myself than you could ever be of yourself.”

But I’m not looking to criticize my friend. I want to illuminate her words so that they are understood in the context of how they were meant. She does not consider herself to be better than anybody else, she is not privileged, and is no more certain of herself than anyone else might be. Her words were intended to convey an appreciation she has for life, and in particular for the day ahead of her. Her life is not without pain, and it is not without struggle. She wakes up every day with her own doubts, with her own uncertainties, and with her own inadequacy and insecurity.

Although she is unique as an individual, she is also just like the rest of us.

Our days consist of the up and down, the push and pull, the ebb and flow, if you will. The days are actually pretty accurate microcosms of our lives. Being that our bodies are made up of 60 to 75 percent water (some say more), is it any wonder we are affected in much the same way that the ocean is by its own gravitational pull? No one is high on life all the time, and no one gets through life without the down times. For some those periods come daily, for some several times a day, for some much more infrequently, but we all experience them. It is a part of life. It is a part of our psychic, spiritual, physical and emotional experience. The same can be said of the high times.

The point I’m getting at is that in our culture today we are encouraged to reject the down times, to flee from them, as if they were in opposition to the human condition, as if they were fattening, or poisonous. Conversely, some people use the down times to gripe and complain, to explain to whoever will listen how much life sucks. Some will feel sorry for themselves when they enter a down cycle, and some will hunker down alone to indulge themselves in the misery. Though we need the low to appreciate the high, indulgence can be its own worst enemy.

The pharmaceutical industry (and many doing their bidding), would convince us that we must medicate in order to escape the down times, or at least to moderate them; but we need the ebb as well as we need the flow. We, however, need not be eternally subject to depression any more than we are empowered to be always feeling good.

We go up and down with time and situational changes, with good news and bad, with loneliness and friendship, with life and death, with joy and sorrow, with love and indifference. It is the human condition. There are external and internal forces that affect us; changes in our circumstances, changes in brain chemistry, etc. Things affect us. That’s just how we are.

We should not always feel compelled to eliminate the down times, to mitigate the darkness.

But an attitude of gratitude, an appreciation for the blessings we have been given in life; and even the pitfalls we’ve encountered, recovered from, or been able to avoid, just might help enable us to confidently pronounce something as seemingly simple and silly as what my friend once said very early in the morning …

“I feel sorry for anyone who is not me today.”

Denes McIntosh lives in Grass Valley.


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