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Monday, January 23, 2012

What is most personal is most general.

Well, winter finally decided to show up. I still haven’t been able to use my cross-country skis, but to be honest, now that it is below zero and icy I’m a little less enthusiastic about exercising outdoors. (In fact, so far I’ve had a very lethargic January which has involved copious amounts of dark chocolate, tea and Netflix and very little exercise. In my defense, the gym is just so crowded this time of year with people trying to fulfill their New Year’s resolutions that I figure I’m better off waiting until they give up-and thus, free-up gym space in February. )
Muscle deterioration is an annual result of the dastardly Januaries in Minnesota.  As I find myself settling deeper and deeper into the dent I have established in my couch, I’ve noticed that something else has settled in- the winter blues. I’m chalking this up to a Vitamin D deficiency. I’m pretty sure this is an accurate guess, as I do not see the sunshine when I leave for work or on my way home... (and because I worship WebMD)...
I’m going to force myself to pick up the exercise regimen and to swallow some Vitamin D pills (which are roughly the size of a baby carrot).  I’m sure my mood will pick up in no time, but in the meantime I’m going to enjoy the winter doldrums by listening to Bright Eyes, wearing dark colors and complaining about pretty much everything.  
I allow myself to wallow in self-pity occasionally because I believe it helps me put my life in perspective. After spending a day or two feeling exceptionally and utterly sorry for myself, it becomes quite clear how incredibly lucky I am.
But, as previously noted, today is a melancholy day, so I thought I’d put out this food for thought.
Recently, my favorite op-ed columnist, David Brooks, solicited life reports from his 80+ readers. He then posted the stories to his blog:
Upon reading these thoughtful, sometimes heart-wrenching, often hilarious, and deeply sincere pieces, I found the following:
I had a friend who always said, “What is most personal is most general,” meaning that the things that each of us thinks is unique in ourselves may, more often than not, be part of the universal experience, or at least the universal awareness.-Charles Darwin Snelling

This quote has spun around in my head the past few days and the more I reflect on it, the more I believe it to be a shard of truth, poignant and piercing, amidst a world of dull clichés. For who has not experienced shame, embarrassment, guilt, passion, unrequited love, loss, tragedy, depression or loneliness? The times we feel most alone, the secrets we hold most dear and the moments we believe to have been experienced exclusively are in fact, the very experiences that bond us in the human experience.
I know this intuition seems obvious, but take a moment to reflect on your most personal  experiences, and take  comfort in the fact that someone else has been there too.

1 comment:

  1. I was reading a book for school by Carl Rogers "On Becoming a Person". He said the line "what is most personal is most general". As I read it, I thought...where have I seen that statement before? On your blog! Mystery solved.