Friday, August 21, 2020

When You're Feeling Sad

I've been on vacation for a week. We traveled north to a cabin that sits on the shore of Island Lake in Winter, Wisconsin. We floated around the tiny lake in a rowboat, in kayaks, and a little paddle boat. We caught fish that were almost too small to wrap their lips around the tiny hooks we had attached to our lines. At night we laughed at and with each other. It was only a couple of nights. I could have used more time away. At one point we were all floating in our respective watercraft and I said, "I didn't realize how balled up I was."

I was able to unwind for a bit. It didn't last long. I'm back home and the inconsiderate neighbors, the back-to-work blues, Allie returning to campus, Julia applying for college, my health, the pandemic, the economy and the myriad of thoughts that had me wrapped up tightly never went far away. This morning they came to a head and I snapped at Debbie for something minor. Then I realized I'm not angry. I am sad and anxious. 

I can cope. I'm old as hell and that means I've uncovered at least a few tactics that I can use to soothe myself. Here's a list (some are a little less self-destructive than others):

  • Listen to music
  • Eat all the things
  • Do something that makes me sweat (lately, that means long bike rides, hikes, elliptical instead of the tennis or squash that my knees no longer seem to be able to handle)
  • Create elaborate plans for self-improvement that I never enact
  • Immerse myself in cleaning, yard work, car maintenance or any project that allows me to see that I made a change
  • Clean and groom myself
  • Stare at my smartphone
  • Buy things that I don't need
  • Sleep
  • Journal or blog
It occurs to me that this list is entirely made up of singular activities. I suppose that reaching out to a friend or family is much healthier but, I don't seem to be built for that. As much as I love them, I know that my moods are contagious, and like coronavirus, I see no need to spread the infection. 

I'm looking at the list and thinking that I've done everything on it and I still feel sad. As grateful as I am for all the ways my life is incredible I'm still struggling. I can't stop paying attention to my ego. I can't quiet the voices that tell me that I'm going to lose everything and that my family will suffer. And the ennui of risk aversion is starting to really chip away at whatever personality or character I may have.  

The future is out to get me and it's arriving so incredibly quickly. 

Things aren't quite so bleak. Like I said, I'm just sad. I know you get sad, too. Maybe you should listen to a little music and treat yourself to a Little Debbie Zebra Cake? You should probably just go for a very long walk with your earbuds blasting whatever makes your head nod uncontrollably (but those Zebra Cakes are like crack so, good luck).