Making Meaning

It always comes back to the same necessity: go deep enough and there is a bedrock of truth, however hard. ~May Sarton

I awoke (awakened?) at 3:30 with the images from this morning’s poem and had to get up and write. It was influenced by my reading of Dr. Eric Maisel’s book, The Van Gogh Blues: The Creative Person’s Path Through Depression. Maisel contends that all creatives suffer depression, and that liberation from depression is possible by creating meaning, forcing our lives to mean. He offers a prescription, in fact, consisting of such things as nurturing self-support, opting to matter, braving anxiety.

Maisel acknowledges that there is a role for anti-depressant drugs, and that early trauma is often a contributor to depression. But he clearly believes that creative people are primarily depressed as a result of their need to make meaning of their lives.

I am just a little over halfway through with this book, but I have found it both fascinating and practical. For example, he offers a sort of mantra of self-soothing in the following passage: “You have to tell yourself, ‘I am the beauty in life’…You combat what shaming did to you by whispering, ‘I am the beauty in life.’ You combat what criticism did to you by whispering, ‘I am the beauty in life.’ You combat what a sterile environment did to you by whispering, ‘I am the beauty in life.'”

Meaningful creating seems to involve working soulfully, a path with heart. How do you create meaning?


5 Responses to Making Meaning

  1. donna says:

    I don’t think you create meaning as much as you recognize what is meaningful to you. Depression seems to result from losing something that was meaningful to you. So to combat depression, you need to find that meaning elsewhere in your life…

    “All meaning in life is arbitrary. It is not tied to god, family, or self unless we define it as such. Nothing in life gives us meaning in and of itself. It is we who assign meaning to objects and relationships. We all try to make the structure of our meaning pretty, but in the end, there is no escape from the feeling that it is all arbitrary.

    It might be better not to ruin the universe with our own patterns.”

    Deng Ming-dao, 365 Tao

  2. ceylanthewriter says:

    Create meaning by finding what is meaningful to you. You need to accept yourself and everything around you for what it is, and not wish for anything else. Above all, LOVE YOURSELF! The only person that you are going to be stuck with is yourself so find something that you love and stick to it. Also, stick to a strong morality and you will find yourself coming into yourself as well as you will begin to see yourself as worthwhile. I know from experience. Freshman year of high school was terrible.


  3. quotesqueen says:

    Actually, the second line of the last stanza was first written as “I must find (not make) meaning” I wasn’t sure about the change, and now I’m thinking “find” is what I want it to be after all. Thanks for your comments!

  4. nikki Hardin says:

    a friend of mine just recommended this book…can’t wait to start it.

  5. […] or find? In a previous post, I grappled with Eric Maisel’s concept of making (as opposed to finding) meaning in our […]

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