Life starts out pretty simple for most of us. Eat, poop, interact. You spend a lot of time making sense of simple things like facial expressions and how your toys work. You learn to ask for help in ways most adults would never even think to try.
But eventually, for most of us, problems turn into Hydras. As soon as you solve one problem, three newer, more complicated ones pop up. This is how small things become large. So you spend your life wielding a sword, fighting the good fight, slaying and creating monsters. They don’t usually attack you all at once, and sometimes everything goes tame for a while. Life becomes simple again. But smart people have learned to keep their guards up somewhat. These are still wild creatures after all, who could go feral at any moment.
From time to time I get exhausted. Just very, very tired of fighting off a few Hydra heads at a time while hundreds more snap at me. I’m tired of knowing that any one of them could break me in half if I’m not careful. Getting tired happens. But getting so tired you just stop trying to even imagine you could win, that’s depression. You just let go, and let the mouths bite at you, and you don’t fight back. You don’t wait for a champion or try to negotiate. You need a rest.
I think genuinely happy people, and I’ve had the immense pleasure of knowing a few, would be surprised that I see a Hydra where they say they see beauty. I’ve had glimpses of that viewpoint, and I long for it, when I remember that it exists at all. Then I dutifully remind myself how lucky I am to be here, and I spread that message around. I tell people let yourself just feel the wonder of the breeze on your skin, just feel the sun, or the rain welcoming you to your home planet. Happiness isn’t feeling larger than everyone else, it’s delighting in the wonder of being an infinitesimally small part of something so large and amazing that our words fail us entirely. I’ve held that happiness in my hand before, but it’s a wild creature too, and it escapes me.
So yes, I get exhausted. And then I either rest or become so physically sick I have to stop doing most everything and concentrate on just staying alive. I have to convince myself, even though of course I’ve always known it’s true, that life is worth the effort. This can take awhile because I’m thick. I just don’t know how to let go of the fight without giving up, how to see that my Hydra is just another creature like myself, a tiny little thing living in an incomprehensibly vast wonderland. Problems that want to swallow you whole are only able to do that if they can trick you into thinking they are huge. I’d like to learn how to put down the sword and walk on into the world with my problems, side by side. For now though, I just need a rest.