I don’t think ancient people suffered depression en masse like we do in this industrialized world today. It’s like a plague, an epidemic that sweeps the nation and while people are sick and dying it’s still just business as usual. Did people have time to worry about petty shit while hunting and gathering? Or were they too busy thinking about real problems like finding enough food?
I can’t help but feel that if humans could come away from the ‘system’ we’ve set ourselves up to fail in, then we could find a lot more little things to enjoy. Some of us (dare I say most of us) were not meant to work the 9:00-5:00, we were meant to move, to breathe fresh air, to use our hands, stretch our minds and creatively problem solve. We were never supposed to worry about driving sales, keeping up with the Jones’, or making more money than we know what to do with. We think these things will make us happy, but more people in this country take pills to keep from going insane than people who make a living on their own land.
I like to imagine a picturesque ideal where people just make their food, and they share it with each other, and each community keeps itself busy with work that they see the tangible results of. Every person can find something that they excel at and can contribute accordingly. Sure, people in this world would still have good and bad days, but I don’t think a bout of depression would be as intense or last as long as for someone who has physically damaged their body sitting at a desk in front of a glowing box crunching numbers that represent imaginary things for years on end. That’s the kind of existence that begs the question: What is it all for? Why bother? What’s the point?
I think that when you spend your days accomplishing things, learning new ways of doing things, and can look back at what you’ve done for the day and know that it will somehow make your future a little easier, then you will recognize all the little things. “It’s the little things in life”: the subtle glow as a beam of light strikes a subject in just the right way, an aroma that triggers a distant memory, the sound of a tune that you haven’t heard in years….these are what it’s all for. These are the things you miss when surrounded by white walls and circulated air. There are too many of us here now for everyone to just walk away from these illusory jobs and start little communities of farmers and craftspeople, but someday, maybe, we’ll get it right. Here’s hoping…