Sufferers of depression have ‘episodes’ the same way those who suffer from multiple sclerosis do. It comes, wipes the floor with you, and then somehow returns you to the world. But it comes back.
Like a lot of people, I’ve often wondered what else I might have been. When I was younger, but even after I was a child, I thought Batman was the whole package. Smart, calculating, pragmatic. Depressed, but in a way women found hot. Tragic at his core and struggling with his demons while trying to save the world.
I found that through my life, living in the city of Toronto, I look above the Pizza Pizza sign, and I look above the other signs and window dressing, and I see evidence of a city that no longer exists in the keystones and the decorations that line the tops of buildings. That presence of the old city has always moved me.
I’ve always loved Houdini, not just because of what he did, but also because of what he stood for. He was a self-made man in a time when the idea of celebrity was still new, and he used his celebrity for good.
I wasn’t against becoming a dad: I’d had a good childhood, as childhoods go, and as role models, my imperfect parents were as good as or better than most.
It’s no mistake that the moment of impregnation is called conception: at first, parenthood is nothing more than an idea.
Having a child is sowing the seeds of your own obsolescence: birth is the fuse that leads to that other thing. You appear, you replace yourself, you die.
The idea of a pseudonym had been flitting around my brain for a long time, along with its cognate, disappearance. In the 1980s, I published some poems under a pen name in a literary magazine to see what it would feel like. It was fun. It was even a little thrilling.
Depression is a surfeit of empathy – a killing empathy – that makes depressives great friends to everyone but themselves. Having a self is a rough business, and depressives can empathize with others who have to deal with it, but not with themselves.
We are already so many things by the time we reach the middle of life that it is possible to see that really anything can happen, and that, by extension, anything is doable. I decided I’d write ‘The Calling’ as someone else. Another writer entirely, a fictional one who would be played by me.