“What or where is Cayucos?” I hear you ask. It’s a small beach town about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. We have vacationed there numerous times over the past 17 years. We love walking along the wide beach with Morro Rock at our backs, heading toward the picturesque pier and a cup of coffee in a village cafe. On the cliff to the right are costly beach homes, ranging from a quaint red, shingle-sided cottage to expansive glass-fronted modern palaces. I used to come back from these walks depressed. I was on vacation in one of the most beautiful and peaceful spots in California, and I was unhappy.

I have been to Nashville twice, and I have come home depressed from there, too. Now, Nashville proper is nowhere as pretty as Cayucos, but it is surrounded by lush, green countryside. It has friendly inhabitants, plenty to do, and music floating onto the street from every door. Even the airport is a gem of a place. What’s not to like?

The cause of my depression, if you use my therapist’s terminology, is cognitive distortion. Instead of enjoying these places for their many virtues, a voice in my head says, “See those beach houses? You’ll never have one. You’re such a loser. You’re just a teacher living in a tiny, tract house in smoggy Rancho Cucamonga.” In Nashville, the voices say, “So, you want to write songs that will someday be hits? Well, you better give that up. Look around this town: amazing talent on every corner. You don’t stand a chance.”

In religious terms, my depression comes from the sins of envy, greed, despair, and pride (at least), and the voice in my head might be called the devil. The voice wants to cut me off from all the goodness that surrounds me.

God has created beautiful places, loving people, and gifts of skill and talent. When I let evil thoughts sour his creation, I am sinning, and I feel it as depression.

With God’s help, I am working on getting over this thinking, and my depression is much improved. I can quell the voices by giving thanks for every little gift I’m given every minute of every day. This grounds me in God’s love and shames the devil. Praise God for Nashville and Cayucos!

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