I feel a bit in limbo — not depressed, not joyful, but somewhere in between. An sociologist, Corey Keyes, has studied this state, and calls it languishing. At first I thought “no, languishing is what Victorian ladies did” or it’s the woman fainting on the intro of PBS Materpiece Mystery. But no, “languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield.” I can relate to that. I’m not totally incapacitated with depression, but am finding positivity hard to find and sustain. Overall things are going well. We’re vaccinated, had a lovely family visit, and the show at Toby’s is a success. But I’m playing a lot of solitaire on my phone, sighing a lot, and having to rouse myself to get things done.  According to Keyes, languishing can lead to more serious mental health problems down the line.

Whole and deconstructed Douglas irises, Japanese maple leaves
Douglas irises, pansies, Japanese maple leaves

The word “anguish” is contained within “languish”. I looked up anguish, and found “extreme unhappiness caused by physical or mental suffering.” Languish isn’t so strong, though it’s still not fun. Languishing is — 1a : to be or become feeble, weak, or enervated Plants languish in the drought. b : to be or live in a state of depression or decreasing vitality languished in prison for ten years. 2a : to become dispirited.

So what’s to be done about languishing, about being a bit in limbo? They suggest flow, getting involved with something that totally engages you. This is what happens to me when I’m making mandalas. I’m not bored, my senses aren’t dulled, and I’m absolutely focused. So even if I slip back into the fog I have some respite from it. I’m grateful for that, and think probably gratitude is a likely antidote as well. How about you? Are you languishing?

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Janet Robbins

    I love the selection and arrangement and colors of this mandala, Carol, the pansies’ smiling faces and the complimentary colors of the irises. They lift our hearts! Re “languishing”, you might want to read a couple of columns by Christine Emba in the Washington Post. One (from 2016) addresses the importance of “leisure”, the second (from yesterday) talks about “fatigue”. After the year we’ve all lived through — not just the pandemic, but the election and it’s continuing always threatening aftermath — there’s no big surprise that spirits struggle sometimes to be positive, that energy lags, that we do “languish”!! So, hooray for the solace your mandalas bring you, and all of us. And blessings galore for the gift of living where we do. That brings peace and calm to me every day. xo

Leave a Reply