Monday Night Nonfiction: The First Chill of the Year

Michael_Ancher_001

The first cool weather of the year. Every time.

A normal person’s mind glides through life unphased by little accidents of nature. The first unseasonably cool day in August or a week of fog in April doesn’t set them spinning. In early August, I notice the noon shadows being just the slightest bit off center and know that summer has begun to end. It’s the littlest panic before the panic. It’s knowing that the days will get shorter, that cold will come, that nights will grow longer, that I will not want to go outside, and everything will feel dark.

Last winter was better than the one before it. Maybe this one will be better as well. Maybe I will find some sunny place for a weekend in November. Maybe I will work in the warm light of my livingroom, contented with coffee or booze. Maybe something unexpected will change, and I’ll be wrapped up in the excitement of some new adventure. But maybe not. And because there is room for doubt, doubt takes root cancerously quick and becomes fear, then panic. Before you know it, you’re taking a walk on a buttery bright autumn morning and crying because you’re pretty sure you’ve done everything in your life wrong. Everything ever. And even as you’re having this thought, you can see the full scale ridiculosity of it.

I know my life is pretty good, but sometimes I seem to only be able to see the worst in things. Once I get into that way of thinking, it’s hard to switch it off. That’s why I meditate, of course, and do yoga and write. But sometimes using those things as relaxation is hard to do when I’ve also made them my job.

I’ve been in a funk lately, but it’s lifting. I’m always tempted to run around doing things to fix whatever is wrong with me, which only ever adds to the frustration. Learning how to see it coming is much more helpful. I see the depression coming and say, “Oh, hey, I remember you.” I think about writing poems about it, but depression is not very pretty, so I can never come up with anything worth saying about it. So I just give myself time, try to be kind, take my vitamins, drink my coffee, sleep regularly, etc. It passes.

 

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