text and photo © Jonathan Zap
Dark moods come with human incarnation. Moods need to be acknowledged and accepted. They cannot always be overruled by pharmaceuticals or the power of positive thinking. We should not allow moods to rule us, but we should not deny them either. Dark moods may have depth and soulfulness, even an edge of mystery. The soul may be awakening in a darkened matrix, and may need to feel the pain of its confinement. Dark moods are not reducible to a Prozac deficiency.
According to certain studies an adult has an average of one major mood shift every 90 minutes or so, and for an adolescent it may be one every fifteen minutes. It is crucial to be aware of moods, to accept them as one does the weather, but it is even more crucial not to be ruled by them. What I do allow to rule me is my True Will, my great work, the mission that I came here to do. I know my path, and therefore I’m going to follow it regardless of weather. At the moment, my inner weather is a bit dark and overcast. But the dark, overcastness doesn’t bother me that much, it even has an edge of mystery and a feeling of emotional depth and soulfulness. Working on this card I know I am on my path, and the changing inner weather is an interesting, but not a dominant part of the landscape through which I am traveling.
When I was younger, however, I might have stopped to gaze at the dark, overcast sky and trIed to explain the weather and what caused it. At the moment it is just before dawn and I have many, many hours of obligatory work I have to do today when I would prefer to have more time for creative work and the chance to dispose of my time as I like. If I so direct my attention I can find various areas of my life that are messy and unfinished and which could be subjects of anxiety. Taking this approach to moods, I start to build storylines, I find reasons for my mood and I give it substance. I apply the narrative fallacy, I take a mood I cannot fully explain and make it part of a story, and as I invest myself in that story, both mood and story become more real. The story solidifies, and I am sure that my mood is overcast because of work, or a relationship, or finances, or where I live, or body image or some aggregate of all my perceived woes. I construct and live in the story, and the prevailing mood seems inevitable. The mood has justified itself, and now I assume that I can only shift it by medication or decisive action to change my circumstances. If I’m feeling active, I will likely feel that I need to change my job, relationship, finances, location, body image, etc. If I’m feeling passive, then I will likely feel I need a magic mood-changing pill, or comfort food, or a new purchase, or someone to take care of me and make me feel better. Investing in these story lines, I am ruled by the mood, and I give it all my power and buy into all its counterfeit solutions.
But now I am older and don’t play that game anymore. I have been through many seasons and I know that the weather is always changing and is hard to predict. It may be raining, it may be sunny, it may be cold, with threatening storm clouds, and I usually don’t know exactly why the inner weather has changed; it seems to follow its own complex cycles. In most cases I don’t need to know, I have to be in some kind of a mood, and variety makes life interesting. I do know what I have to do, however, and that clarifies things. No matter what is going on with my inner weather, my job is the same — to do the best I can from awakening to bedtime. My focus is not usually on the mood, on where it comes from, or how I could medicate it. The moods are like interesting music playing in the background. Sometimes the music is loud, intense, upbeat — music that speeds me up and gets my body moving. Other times the music is sad, symphonic, soulful and I allow it to deepen my emotions and perhaps remind me of what is most important in life. My focus is usually on my path, on the daily journey from awakening to bedtime, and the precious moments in between when I have time to dedicate to my great work. Perhaps I am cleaning my house or shopping for groceries. While these may seem like menial tasks, they are actually both integral to my great work because I cannot do the things at the core of the great work — creating, relating — so well if my house is a wreck and I have no food. Since I know I am following my path, a meaningful path, the vicissitude of moods, the changes, often dramatic, in my inner weather are part of what makes each day interesting and unique. At the moment I live in Boulder, Colorado — a mountain town, a high desert, a place of unstable mountain weather that shifts dramatically in short periods of time and I like that; it creates an edge of unpredictability. The saying here is that if you don’t like the weather, wait fifteen minutes. I know it is the same with my moods, if I don’t like my present mood I don’t have to turn my life upside down to change the mood, I just have to wait for a bit, because the inner weather changes as regularly as the outer weather. Meanwhile there are opportunities for meaningful accomplishment, and that’s what I usually focus on.
Depending on the position of this card, the issue may be more about the of the vicissitudes of mood in those around you. Some people who haven’t matured in relationship to mood, who allow moods to rule them, will build dramatic stories about their moods and may even want to include you in these stories. They make their mood into a garish drama, and want you to be part of that drama. Gently, but firmly, withdraw from such invitations. If you step in and allow yourself to be a character in their mood-driven dramas, you only increase the power of the story — it has actual people in it, so it must be real. Be alert to the ever-shifting weather systems of others, and adjust your boundaries accordingly. Know when to approach and when to lovingly yield to others the space to find their own equilibrium.
Feel the moods, monitor the weather as it shifts within you, in the people around you, in the groups you are part of, in the nation, the world, but allow no weather system to rule you and envelope you with a story. Keep moving toward the fulfillment of your missions.
Dealing with Zones of Inner Jeopardy
“Dealing with Afflictive Thoughts and Feelings” in of A Guide to the Perplexed Interdimensional Traveler