I am the Starving Lion

“Not a damn thing.” That’s my answer to the dreaded, “What did you do this weekend?”

There is no hint of jest in that answer. I literally did nothing. Well, nothing productive. I’m not proud of it, but I am angry. My boys were with their father this weekend and, while I had nothing exciting planned; I did have a million and one (or two) things to get done around my apartment. I did none of it. The really disturbing part of my behavior is that it is becoming a trend I can’t seem to stop.

I do want to be more accomplished. Oh, I have finally resolved myself to the fact that I will never write the great American novel. I will never win the lottery. I will never be famous (Thank God.). I will never be a CEO or own a multi-million dollar company. Hell, it is likely that I will never make a salary large enough for me to ever feel relieved or comfortable in my situation and that of my boys. My life, for better or worse, is a simple one. So… why can’t I muster the motivation to be the best me I know I need to be?

It’s obvious I care. I psyche myself to do things. I might even follow through for a week or two. Then… nothing. And, when I do nothing, I actually get super angry at myself. Somehow though, that anger doesn’t translate into change.

Am I mildly depressed? Probably. I’m always a bit melancholic despite my bipolar medication. Have I spiraled into the depths of depression from whence there is no return? No. There is a book out there called Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy by Eric G. Wilson. I have it. I’ve read it. The goal of the author is to help draw the distinction between general individual sadness and serious depression issues. It’s a good read. I’ve lived as a diagnosed bipolar for almost fifteen years now. Between personal experience and books like the one I’ve mentioned, I know I’m in the safe zone right now.

My problem isn’t depression. It’s general motivation. I don’t have any and I can’t find it and I’m really, really pissed off about the whole situation. I get up every morning. I look across the Serengeti of my life and when I don’t immediately spot a gazelle… I lay back down.

“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.” ~Unknown

This Leo, she’s going to starve.


  1. Do you feel that your current stasis is due to being overwhelmed with too much to do, or is it more of a lethargy or malaise?

    Often, when I am overwhelmed by too many things to do, I become like a gazelle frozen in the headlamps of a Range Rover. I just can't move. But I know that's a dangerous position to be in, because I am at risk to get attacked by a lion. So, I do something, anything -- just to move. Attack one item on my to-do list arbitrarily and without much thought.

    The other kind of situation -- malaise, general lack of motivation, etc. -- I find a lot harder to deal with. It general requires me to open up a big ol' can of whup-ass on myself to shake off the malaise.

    I usually do something I haven't done in a while, usually something physical, like go out for a run at twilight (just for example), or go for a swim, and find that that often shakes off the malaise, or dislodges it a bit, anyway.

    Good luck, though. It can certainly be very frustrating getting re-motivated. ~John

  2. I get what you're saying - sounds like me actually but for what it's worth, I see what you are accomplishing--which is working, cooking, running like crazy and raising good kids, which is no small accomplishment...and your boys seem to truly like spending time with you. I was bummed to read the part about your not writing a novel - I think you're a good writer and I'm hoping you leave that goal open. =)

  3. And yes, ditto to all that Lisa said, especially the part about writing a novel. I don't see why that goal should be on a list of things deemed never to happen....

  4. John: Yeah - I pretty much just need to smack the shit out of myself.

    Lisa: Mwah! Seriously dear, I could hug you right now and I'm not a hugger.

    What is it with the book writing? Several different people on FB told me the same thing this week. You're ALL insane.

  5. I don't really know what to say... but I'm always happy to be a soundimg-board if you need to talk things through. Just don't forget that you're acheiving a lot without even thinking about it, and it's ok not to be busy-busy-busy all the time.

  6. Well, my dear, how do you know you're a lion? I suggest you're a gazelle, in a place where almost all the lions are imaginary.

    Gazelles eat grass and there is plenty of it. The trouble is you live in an environment full of insanity, as evidenced by the insanity of thinking one must write a novel as a demonstration of fitness to occupy the modest amount of space it takes for one body on this forgiving planet.

    The planet is forgiving (despite the vast paranoia to the contrary!) but some of its creatures have been touched by the same stinging bug that infected the Gadarene swine. They stampede off a cliff.

    If we are sane, we will graze the grass in our meadow, and enjoy its sweetness; and make a sensible plan to avoid the poisonous weeds, and get what we want, but currently lack.

  7. Perhaps what you really need is a sense of balance in your life. I get the feeling you have more "have to" than "want to." Try tipping the scale toward "want to" more and maybe you'll find yourself more motivated in general.

    Just a thought from personal experience.

  8. Rachel: Thank you, sweetie!

    Vincent: Having witnessed both the gazelle and the lion in the wild... I am no gazelle. I also don't think writing a novel is a demonstration of fitness to occupy my space on this rock. It was merely a personal goal... one that has been sidelined.

    Finn: I do need more of the "want to" in my life.

  9. That great timeline of our lives? It's not the dots scattered along it that matter. They count for nil. The long lines in between? That's where you've lived. Accomplishments and Success as defined by most society are overrated.

    The lion eats when he's hungry enough.

  10. Sounds like George Bailey Syndrome. I have it, too. We all do. We get up every day, we do all the small things that our lives require and feel a quiet sense of desperation. We think we're missing the greatness of life. Forgetting that the greatness is built from the smallness. They say the remedy is to do something for someone else. Takes you out of your world, if only for a moment.

  11. Dori: I could hug you right now.

    BG: "We get up every day, we do all the small things that our lives require and feel a quiet sense of desperation." Uh.... yep! Awesome insight. Thank you, dear.


"Stranger, if you passing meet me and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me? And why should I not speak to you?" ~Walt Whitman


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