13 x 20
oil on shellacked paper
© sioban lombardi 2010
Winston Churchill suffered from depression. He called it his “black dog” referencing its familiarity and constancy. I know this black dog, however unlike Churchill’s pet, my friend’s presence occurs in direct proportion to the extent I allow external forces to effect me. Given the state of the economy, the absence of a creative peer group, my failure (despite more than 200 applications) to secure employment, and the general feeling of helplessness those conditions produce, sometimes I win, and sometimes I lose.
I had not seen Fido for more than 10 years, and when he reappeared last summer I was surprised by two aspects of his return: The first being my failure to recognize his presence. Certainly, I had experienced intense grief after the death of my parents, but there the relationship between cause and effect was clear. While my move from Brooklyn to Chicago was wrought with emotion, it was a happy event marked by accomplishment and a return home. Yet after two years away, where every conversation was interesting and every waking moment was productive, silent days spent largely alone furnish a void easily populated by doubt, apprehension and melancholy. My ability to concentrate, let alone create is challenged on a regular basis.
The second surprise is the persistence with which the dog has reentered my life. Sometimes he sits quietly at my side, encouraging me to play Free Cell solitaire for hours, wearing the same clothes I wore yesterday, and maybe the day before that. Then, with the blink of an eye, I can plummet into a pool of despair so cavernous that I doubt my ability to surface. Everything is an absolute. This will never end. Any change would be welcome.
The operative phrase here is “blink of an eye.” In fact, eleven years after first recognizing the dog, I know his presence is a deception. In fact, moments of sadness are countered by moments of joy and both are buoyed by much-of-the-mundane in between. I know that the dog will eventually go away. I believe he will visit again. But amidst all of his comings and goings lives the certainty that I am loved and cared for and that I love and care for - all in a life much larger than my immediate situation.