I'm reading this wonderful book by Rabbi Harold S. Kushner entitled Overcoming Life's Disappointments. Since mine is a secular blog, and I know many of us worship different faiths, I don't feel comfortable discussing the religious lessons I'm learning.
However, there is a quote about Joshua Wolf Shenk's book, Lincoln's Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness, which might have a universal application. "[Shenk] offers a portrait of Abraham Lincoln as a man weighed down with despair and depression, not only during the years of the Civil War but throughout his life.
"But the depression did not keep him from living a productive life. On the contrary, it forged a strength of soul, that in the words of the book's subtitle, 'fueled his greatness.' Shenk writes, 'With Lincoln, we have a man whose depression spurred him, painfully, to examine the core of his soul; whose hard work to stay alive helped him develop crucial skills and capacities, even as his depression lingered.'
"His mental condition taught him to 'look troubling reality straight in the eye' rather than with unwarranted optimism. Lincoln became a great man and a great president, perhaps the greatest president ever, because his road to the White House was a hard road, not a smooth one.
"...Lincoln used the discouragements of his life not to permanently block his way but to help him uncover who he really was. And we, who can aspire to be like Lincoln, can be like him in refusing to let the discouragements of our lives permanently deter us from the fulfilling life that may await us."
As I bid you a happy and healthy weekend, I'd be interested in your thoughts on this quote. What can we learn from our depressions? How does it strengthen us? What "skills and capacities" does it give us?