A friend left a message the other night, trying to sound casual, but all of her Ns sounded like Ds, and I could tell she'd been crying.
"It's duthing buch," she said to the machine, breezy. "Do deed to call back -- talk to you whedever."
A fifteen-year-old girl wrote to me the other day. She says she doesn't know why she's depressed. She tells me she's never been raped, homeless, molested, abused -- so there should be nothing for her to be depressed about, damn it!
Because unless you've been raped, homeless, molested, or abused (and it better have been recently) -- or starved, tortured, swept up in a flood, made the victim of ethnic cleansing, forced to work in a sweatshop at the age of eight, had your hands chopped off in a diamond mine, seen atrocities beyond description, etc. -- you'd better be fucking happy all the goddamn time, or you are the WORST KIND OF ASSHOLE IN THE WORLD.
I mean, THINK ABOUT DARFUR. THINK ABOUT IT.
YOU'RE NOT THERE.
SO BE HAPPY.
(Is it working?
Probably not. Actually, I hope not. If you get happier thinking about other people's misery, you're not really the kind of person I want to know.)
I'm not saying it's not great to be grateful -- it is. I'm saying that suffering sucks no matter how it happens. That we all suffer the same things. Fear of death. Fear of pain. Fear of losing loved ones. Fear of being despicable to god, to the universe, to other people, to ourselves. Fear that it's really the universe and god and other people that are essentially despicable. Fear that we are lousy, sick, wrong, unfixable.
And some of those fears are more likely to come to pass if you live in Darfur. But none of us can avoid them, in the end. You can be as rich as Jackie O, and you can still get cancer and die. You can be Bill Cosby's son, and get shot by the side of the road. I can be sitting here in my totally comfortable apartment, with three healthy, contented cats sleeping nearby, and a book in the stores and a partner I love and all that happy crap, and I can still feel unbelievably bad today, so fucking lousy and shitty and angry and depressed, and furious, and ashamed, and afraid. And lonely. But mostly mad. And upset.
It's true. Today, I do.
And I've been writing posts and deleting them, trying to talk about something important, something feminist-y, something about Darfur, trying to talk about something besides how I feel, trying not to validate these stupid, unearned feelings. My feeeeeeeeeeelings. When there's starvation! And poverty! And animal cruelty! And melting glaciers!
And sadness, which exists just as surely as anything else, in everyone who has the heart to feel happy at times. Sadness -- as real as death, as real as torture, as real as cruelty, as real as love.
Your feelings are real.
Your sadness is true.
It sucks for me.
And it sucks for you.