Does Anything In Nature Despair?

leaf all alone

Does anything in nature despair except man? An animal with a foot caught in a trap does not seem to despair. It is too busy trying to survive. It is all closed in, to a kind of still, intense waiting. Is this a key? Keep busy with survival. Imitate the trees. Learn to lose in order to recover, and remember that nothing stays the same for long, not even pain, psychic pain. Sit it out. Let it all pass. Let it go.”
May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude

Reading one of Elizabeth Gilbert posts on her Facebook page last week she states:

The etymology of the word “despair” is “to be without hope” (From the Latin. De = without. sperare = to hope. Curiously enough, this thread of simple investigation led me to another word, which I’ve never heard before — the adjective “sperate”, which means, “having some likelihood of recovery”…which seems like a really important word to know.)

The scariest feeling I’ve ever experienced in my life was the sense, during my period of deepest depression, that this might not end. My fear was that this was not a phase, but a new reality — forever. I feared that I might look back years later and see that there had been a moment in my life when I fell off the sidewalk, landed in the gutter, and never really made it back up to my feet again. That fear for my future was worse, even, than the reality of my present.

I realized I am not the only one with a sense of no hope at times.  Funny she mentioned her experience, as I was just telling my therapist last week how overwhelmed I felt with everything, and I couldn’t imagine, after 3 years, still finding it challenging to even brush my teeth some days. It was to the point, on the Monday of our Canadian Thanksgiving, after all the family left, and I was alone, I started to feel worthless.

Totally, utterly worthless.

This horrid feeling lasted the entire day, and a rare time when I couldn’t even find a reason to smile. Just the day before I was enjoying my family, a great dinner, smiles and laughs. Surrounded by those I cherish, and although I felt a tad uncomfortable (being in a group) I knew I was safe. So why is it, the next day, I fall into depth I was just 3 years ago.

I said to my therapist : « Is this ever going to end? »

That is when she explained : « You feel despair ».

I never knew the true meaning of this word until last week : « The complete loss or absence of hope » yet, Mrs. Gilbert brings up another word, which I agree is a very important one  “sperate”

There is a chance I will recover, even better:  I will recover. 

As a child, and even now,  I am the « light at the end of the tunnel » person, always trying to find the « end of the rainbow » for the pot of Gold. Somewhere over that rainbow, blue birds do fly.. I promise.

But some days, there are no rainbows, or birds, only « why only why can’t I? »

leaves leaves leaves 1 without textThank the great Universe above, I do not feel despair every day, only in moments. I am able to chase away the feeling by eventually finding beauty, finding joy, finding love. All I have to do is look at my children and the despair flies out of me like a cat after it fell into the toilet. It runs.

I think of the people who feel despair daily, at one point, I did. It was the most unnerving feeling in my life. Not being able to set goals, or even imagine anything better than what I was experiencing at the moment. Years of therapy, writing, sharing and communicating with others, allowed me to know that this is not a forever thing. It never was a forever thing.

Oh, I may have a chronic illness (depression), and yes it returns every day, week or month. Yet, if I look at the passion I felt last week, capturing the beauty of autumn with my camera, taking in the spectrum of hues this time of year brings. Yes, it is an end (the fall) to bring in the beginning of another season.

And seasons will change, as the season of my life changes. Guaranteed!

It is all-encompassing

Today, the leaves I captured in my photographs are falling off the trees. Soon the soil will be covered in a beautiful blanket of snow, however, it never ends, life itself. It is only dormant for a short while, earth does not despair, because under it all  life is still waiting to become again.

I am becoming every single day.

“Depression is the flaw in love. To be creatures who love, we must be creatures who can despair at what we lose, and depression is the mechanism of that despair.”  ― Andrew Solomon, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression


  1. Kim, I so admire your attitude…you always look with hope and courage. I wish I was half as courageous as you are. I’m working on it, but I’m creeping toward it instead of plowing my way through it. Your attitude always makes me fight harder and I thank you for that.

  2. Another courageous post, dear Kim! Sending lots of virtual love and hugs your way xxx

  3. One has to remember that the first 12 years of our life are the most traumatic ones so it is not surprising that it takes that long to get better, to know how to cope with any mental illness and not let it overtake our functional life… in my case I know that general anxiety disorder will always be with me but I have learned through analysis that I can keep it at bay most of the time …when anxiety starts even in your crib as a baby it’s forever and I have accepted it and live with it. Great post Kim give yourself a pat on the back my friend <3

  4. I find it amazing when I am gifted with a word that touches me right where I need it, usually right in the heart, where these words touched you. Embrace them, use them and learn from them. You are doing this in your post today. That is so cool Kim! Good job. Great wisdom.

  5. You are a wonderful writer. I love the way you share the deepest wisdom.. I know for me part of me carries a bit of depression daily but I can tell you it does get better.. You are doing the work it takes for it to get better, for it to not interfere in the same way it does now. There will be a day that the depression is either gone or so minor that it won’t rule your world, you will rule it.. Love yourself my beautiful friend, love yourself happy. big hugs

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