Living, May is Mental Health Month, Mental Health

An Imperfect Porpoise


The very word makes me twitch.

It’s supposed to be peaceful, magical, that neutral territory where the heart sings and your psyche lies in savasana.

That is, if you can attain it.

I’m forever striving.  I want to show that boulder who’s boss, shoving it up the mountain for good.  But if it doesn’t roll back over me on its way back down, it’s got so much momentum it just goes over the other side.

I lamented to my therapist that I just want to conquer depression.  I want to beat it into submission and be done with it.  I like closure.


Depression is not an open-close case.  It is full of decisions and appeals, a juggernaut of self-imposed juries.

For every bright spot, there is a chance of dark days.  For every low point, there is an arc of highs.  And sometimes it’s all over the road like a reading of the Richter scale.

Unfortunately (or not), this same concept applies to life.

Whether I like it or not, I have to take the good with the bad, the ups with the downs, the victories with defeat.

While Sisyphus has been the poster-child of my life as of late, a friend tried to introduce me to someone new. She said,

Here’s to imperfect progress–a gradual improvement of mood and attitude despite life’s natural ups and downs.

I’m trying to frame this in terms of my buddy Sisy and his vertical hangout.  I can’t.  A long, gradual slope comes to mind, maybe strewn with boulders along the way.  Or maybe it’s like that part of the trail where you hit the tree line and think the summit is just over the next hump, but it stretches on and on and up and up.  The view improves, but the trek is still arduous.

Rolling this new idea of imperfect progress around in my head, the words transmuted themselves into ‘an imperfect porpoise’, which not only made me laugh, but kind of fits.  I’m happy, but I don’t chirp like Flipper; can’t.  Some days I flit about the surface, skimming the waves, others I plunge into the depths.  And all the time, I like to turn words and things on their heads and see what comes about.  Porpoises are intelligent; I wonder if they over think things as much as I do.

What IS the porpoise of life, anyway?

What IS the porpoise of life, anyway?

“An Imperfect Porpoise” is my modern-day myth.  It is about the ever-elusive balance.  The disgruntled admission that this is what I need to seek, rather than domination or perfection.  And maybe that a moving target has less chance of being flattened by a boulder ;-).  Hey, old habits die hard.  This new guy and I are just getting acquainted.  Sisy and I go way back.  This whole life is imperfect anyway, right?


4 thoughts on “An Imperfect Porpoise

  1. it’s a process; I thought with my last therapist, i’d finally understand and not be depressed ever again; but it doesn’t work that way. We go around a mountain, and the condition or test repeats itself, but we are different each time. Is the idea of balance somewhat of a cultural construct. You are doing something well even if you struggle; striving, struggle, attain, perhaps that is the process; you are not perfect; but your children will have their own issues.
    you will gain insights; for me, depression/anxiety was many things. It takes time; I hope im not being too preachy; I just see my younger self; there’s a point of view that we are all born with souls rich in gems, and we have to mine these gems – a vast shift from Original Sin, my baby and childhood hangout. It helps me at the end of the day to see what good I’ve done too. one more thought; a lot of times, depression or core issues happen before a growth spurt. Tell me if i’m being too personal with you; regards.


    • Jennifer Butler Basile says:

      Not at all. Preach on, sister! I’ll all for connecting with others who may have traveled along the same path I’m on. I strongly agree that ‘depression or core issues happen before a growth spurt.” A lot, if not all, of the good things going on in my life right now wouldn’t have happened if I’d remained in stasis. Funny, I don’t blog so much about those! Not recently anyhow. Thanks for the perspective and your thoughtful read and response.


  2. Rigney says:

    I love your Imperfect Porpoise. I think I will swim along with you both. Funny, thought balance (for me) would come with age. It really is a constant struggle, as you have so eloquently demonstrated. Ebb and flow, like the tide that guides Imperfect Porpoise.

    Swim on, Jen! (says the mermaid!)
    Wonderful post, and you are wonderfully brave.


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