As I walked across the mottled clay tiles of the Alvord Desert, I was struck by the impermanence of everything. Thousands of years ago, the ground beneath me was submerged in two hundred feet of water. Geological change caused the then-lake to burst forth from its confines and fill rivers to the south. Today, the 140 square mile "playa" is dry half the year. During the season of my visit - when most of the five inches of average annual precipitation falls on the desert - water crept across the landscape like a mirage from the northeast. I stood alongside it and watched as it bubbled closer and closer to my feet. Slowly. Surely. In the words of the Buddha, Everything vanishes.
I had my first "encounter" with depression my sophomore year of college. I remember the time and place of it like it was yesterday - and even still today as I reflect on it I can feel those first moments - the emptiness, the confusion, the loneliness and desperation. Sadness swept over me like a wave, and the lights went out all around me. And, more painfully, the lights went out inside of me. I had no idea what was happening, and I certainly didn’t know what to do about it.