Thursday, November 30, 2006

Mamosay Mamosama Makossa

Warning, self absorbed ramblings ahead...

About a week ago, whilst enjoying a pleasant evening at M’s, the subject of my condition came up. M and I almost always approach everything with an air of flippant tomfoolery, so when you consider that we were listening to Disco hits from the seventies at the time, you can be sure the discussion that ensued was anything but serious.

M exclaimed: “You can’t wake up every single morning and re-question the basics of your existence! It’s not sane!” She further elaborated the point with superb comedic flair by impersonating me waking up; a quizzical frizzled look on my face: “This is earth, I live in Cairo, I am human, this is my room, my name is…” get the point?! After establishing initial bearings, I would then step out of my room and begin affiliating myself with the elements that shape my life and identity. The skit was actually quite funny, and not only because M is a scathing comedian by nature, but because her words rang with a particular din of veritas.

We laughed at the idea; it seemed like a great premise for a movie. I’d of course be played by Johnny Depp. I vote Jenna Jameson for M.

My capacity (and evidently M’s) to poke fun at my torrent affair with existence has developed into a sort of self-administered substitute for clinical therapy. In the past however, different reasons forced me to seek professional help, none more imperative than the desire to “get better” and the realization that I was unable to do it alone.

My life has greatly been shaped and influenced by the ongoing dynamic of confronting, dealing, and dancing with depression, and I do believe that I am better for it. I used to question whether my depression may not in fact be a self perpetuated myth, some sort of bogey man I’ve raised and fed to add intensity and substance to my life. Back in my dark philosopher phase in college I actually believed that my depression gave me an edge, an esoteric persona. But somewhere along the way I recognized that my mood swings, my troughs and crests weren’t necessarily symptomatic of a particular possibly curable condition, but an indication of a volatile character. This was a first step towards seeing the truth behind the fiction so to speak, and I eventually learnt to acknowledge and deal with the nature of my character, its flaws and its perks.

I’ve had a successful track record with the battle against depression, but there remains much room for pontification on the frequency of its occurrence…which brings us to M’s little comedy act.

I think I do have a tendency to constantly question my identity…except, not really. True I tend to doubt myself a lot, but that’s just my inbred insecurity not a deep philosophical introspection into the essence of moi…Ultimately, it’s just about being happy. But while I’m aware of how fickle happiness can be, I’m all too aware of the very real possibility of attaining it. I’m distinguishing here between the perpetuation of fleeting moments of pleasure, and the visceral contentment that is the result of making peace with time.

If we accept that there exists the possibility of attaining happiness in life, then it should follow that the attainment of happiness must not only be a worthy goal to pursue, but that it must surely be the ultimate goal of every living individual.

One of the most important steps towards the realization of this goal is the acceptance of one’s responsibility towards oneself, and while I recognize the absolute primitiveness of this notion I find it necessary every once and again to remind myself of it. Perhaps this is what M meant in her skit, “This is earth, I live in Cairo, I am human, and I intend to be happy…!”


Amnesiac said...

What does Mamosay Mamosama Makossa mean?

Dee-Vine said...

excellent post.
people pursue wealth, love, success etcetc, all because they think it would make them happy. happiness is the ultimate goal of human life.

Jester said...

I have no idea what it means, but I'm guessing it's Swahili. It's the bit sang at the end of Michael Jackson's "Wanna be startin somethin"...My geekiness is revealed!

gayyash said...

akheeran bloggeit ya 3am. wa ya laho min post kaman. we wala geek walla 7aga.. dalli mabye3sha2sh michael yeb2a ya kaddab ya mabyefhamsh aslan.

i tend to feel happiness can't be a goal in itself and that when it is, the result is often consumerism. people seem to find a "making peace with time" happiness when they strike a harmony with the hand they've been dealt in life. i know this migh sound cheezy and you've probably given this more thought than i have, but a couple of years ago i was totally in the dumps (no job, no money, former love i wasn't over went and dated wad khawaga up north... zoroof weskha awi) and i happened upon this book 'letters of a sufi master' by shaykh ad-dharqawi. it's famous and is one of those really nice non-cryptic 'sufi reads'. anyway in his letters there was this running theme of dismay, as he called it, being both a blessing from God (because it imparts knowledge) but also that the way to overcome it is to engage it, to follow it to its roots in one's soul. the shaykh says all problems (women, etc.) are but soul problems and that one mends them by attaching one's heart to nothing but God and having virtues and purging vices, etc. i found that to be really useful and it cast a really positive light on my own troubles and helped me overcome them a bit (or to function normally again, at least). another thing: i recently learned that many medicine men in indigenous societies will have gone through an extended period of physical and/or mental illness at some point and this is partly what qualifies them to be (wise men) healers aslan. this really struck me as i found it to sharply contrast contemporary attitudes to depression (in the industrialized West, mostly), in which it is feared, rejected and stamped out as soon as it appears, usually with chemicals, which i feel both misses the point of depression and causes other problems. that said, i know drugs sometimes help people get on with their lives when depression becomes debilitating. we Rabbena ye7fazna.

aho dalli 3andi, 3alalla makonsh sadda3tak walLaho a3lam.

Amnesiac said...

Gayyash - "akheeran bloggeit ya 3am" That's rich coming from you! Every time I open your blog I find that poor fish staring at me and I want to throw up. What happened to the wonderful long lyrical descriptions of scenes from Cairo life??

Jester: Michael was wowzers blazers until it all went pear-shaped with 'Feed the World' etc.

Please do tell me to shove my unasked for advice where the sun don't shine, but as someone who is no stranger to blue moments, and who has tried both the medicated and grit-my-teeth-and-bear-it till it passes routes, I would say that giving any thought to life, existence, and your role in the cosmos is pointless and ultimately counterproductive...I think as M was suggesting in her skit.

Seneferu said...

It's always nice to come across nice posts and comments like these...Thanks.

Seneferu said...

I agree with everything Gayyash said, the key in it being what he said at the end: "we Rabbena ye7fazna". I think mysticism is related to suffering, but also that it is not something you go out of your way to find. Like the medicine men in indigenous societies that he spoke of, who wouldn't have been there in their current positions had it not been for the suffering they endured. But I don't think everyone who had been dealt such a hand by life had made it out of it to where these medicine men are, and this is why these few people are revered. Which brings us back to "Rabbenna ye7fazna", and why I also agree with what Amnesiac said, as seemingly different an opinion as it is.

One last point on the persuit of does kind of conflict with the quote from Kant in the last post, right? But that would go back to how you define honour...

Deeeeeee said...

I really liked reading this post, it made me laugh a little and wonder a lot...
I mean...don't you chose your existence?Well,of course there are parts that are outta hand, but others are really.. by choice 'not the human part and you being jester or so', but stuff like: I'm a 'adjective' human, I belong to 'noun' and I select to live my life 'adverb'. As for words like happiness, despite my very very limited experience in life.. I consider it a very relative and an unreal term. I honestly hope you live your life satisfied with it, accepting to all your circumstances and at peace with yourself.

I think John Cusack would do a good job too, playing you in a movie :)

Jester said...

Writing this post was difficult for me because it had to do with a lot more issues than actually revealed, issues which you guys did a marvellous job at sifting through and extracting.

Amne's concerned cautionary remark is a voice which stands as a reminder not to indulge in self pity and drown in self obsession; a voice I am learning to heed.

Gayyash's gnostic insight and elaborations sum up years of personal struggle with depression which have taught me the wisdom in acceptance and the inevitabilty of strife in the process of growth and change; a process which bears many fruits and gifts.

Senefru's capacity for mental gymnastics captured the very paradoxes that shape me. His observance of potentially contradictory posts highlighted my belief in both the value of the pursuit for happiness, but that its transience can be cured by redefining it.

D7, your precocious awareness emphasized the significance of choice in our lives; a fact I strive to remind myself of when I am buried under the weight of responsibility.

Thank you all for engaging with me and for affecting me in a a manner more postive than I have managed to's hoping I extend the favor some day.

Seneferu said...

Hi Jester!

Thanks for your comment, it made my day when I read it. I was wondering why you didn't respond earlier, thought it was either because it was something personal like you said here, or you were just snubbing the rest of us bloggers whom you don't know. My capacity for mental gymnastics doesn't prevent me from thinking petty sometimes:)

Glad you're feeling better.

(P.s. loved the mental gymnast analogy!)

Basil Fawlty said...

I have a simple explanation for my depression: frustration. All forms of it: sexual, intellectual, interpersonal...I suck at most of all of the above. My cure for depression is to push myself to work harder to achieve satisfaction in all these fields, with minimal effort. Which might be the very definition of a thankless task.

I'm cursed with the gift of getting every single thing I wish for. It takes time, but I usually end up getting it: I wanted money, I got it. I wanted to live abroad, I got that. I wanted to know a vast number of women on a very intimate level, check.

It's God's idea of a practical joke that by giving me what I believe I want and yet removing the endless delights it promised to deliver, I find myself no better off than I was before, except with one more thing stricken from my list, because it failed to make me happy.

I think happiness is doing what you know you like with people you know you like, satisfied in the knowledge that what you don't have truly lacks the capacity to give you any real satisfaction.

I'm going to post this on my blog.

Lauren Agius said...

Reading your words reminded me of some words that I have read before, words that have meaning to me. They are from a book written from Eckhart Tolle:
"The Joy of being, which is the only true happiness, cannot come to you through any form, possession, achievement, person, or event- through anything that happens. That joy cannot come to you-ever. It emanates from the formless dimension within you, from consciousness itself and thus is one with who you are."

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