There’s been a head cold working its way through my office, and on Day 28 I woke up with a sore throat and feeling particularly sluggish. I had plans in the evening that I didn’t want to miss, so I made myself rest for most of the day. “Resting” on a weekend, although it always sounds nice, is usually the invitation that welcomes my good friends Gloom and Panic in for a nice, long visit. Remarkably, though, they didn’t get me. There was a brief moment in the late afternoon, where I thought I heard Gloom knocking on the door, so that’s when I knew it resting was over and it was time to get to work.
After 2 naps, a dozen cups of tea, and 2 Netflix movies, a familiar feeling started to set in, and I knew that if I continued to lie there it wouldn’t be long before I’d be completely incapable of forming sentences or happy thoughts. I could still feel a cold coming on, so I took it easy and did 10 sun salutations. And it was the perfect dose of medicine for my mood and energy level. I was still a little slow through the night, but I didn’t have to carry that giant boulder of doom around with me.
Followed up the exercise with 20 minutes of meditation. I could see the dark thoughts come in, “You did nothing all day, you’re a loser, the work week is coming and you’re not prepared, you’re all alone.” But it was up to me whether or not I focused on them. I’d follow them for a few minutes because I know them so well, and then when I realized what I was doing, I went back to my breath where apparently the sunshine lives.
Random act of kindness AND reflect on something good that happened
These two worked hand in hand today, and separating them wouldn’t allow for the full taste sensation, so today I’m rolling them up together like a happiness-filled Swiss roll of joy.
But first, a little background. There’s a band called Helio Sequence that I really love to hear live. There’s something special about their live performances that you just can’t get from their recorded work—it’s like getting swept up in a sound tornado, where this ethereal force of nature is swirling around you and you’re not sure, but you think they’re doing this specifically for you. It blows my mind every time. I first discovered them during my Los Angeles days, with some members of my writing family, so the music brings back some very happy memories.
I bought tickets and asked a couple of friends to come with me (not so random, but these two people are very dear to me, and I wanted to do something nice for them). Music has always been incredibly important to me, and before I discovered writing it was a way to communicate things that I couldn’t figure out how to say out loud. Sharing music was, and still sometimes is, a way to have conversations about complicated emotions and significant experiences.
For the past few years, these lounger bouts of depression have fed on each other, each one getting stronger, until the one that accompanied MawMaw’s death pretty much did me in. My experience of music had changed, it became more bland. And my drive to get out of the house, if I didn’t absolutely have to, quickly disintegrated.
When I woke up with the sore throat, that thing in me that wants to keep me isolated took a little joy from it. I could have a reasonable excuse to cancel. But I wasn’t running a fever, wasn’t sick enough for a doctor, just a little scratch in the throat and feeling a little run down. I spent the afternoon wrestling between two loves – staying in and isolating vs. experiencing music I love and sharing it with people I adore. One meant alone, the other meant community. And four weeks into this work, I recognize the importance of togetherness in keeping depression at bay. So I rallied the internal troops, and I had a great time. I stood in the middle of that pleasure-filled sound tornado and let it carry me and my friends to technicolor bliss. (And I got to meet the lead singer and awkwardly giggle my through a photo opp).
Had I stayed home I could have rationalized that I was doing it for my health, that it was out of necessity. But I knew it wasn’t, and that tiny kernel of truth would have made this Sunday morning miserable because I would have known that I once again chose the easy, safe, comfortable path. But I chose differently. And on this Sunday morning as I write up yesterday’s work, I feel great. I’ve got new happy memories to store up in that complicated brain of mine, ones that I can draw from later when I need them, and my throat is magically unscratchy.
3 things I’m grateful for:
1) Matt and Katie—thank you for joining me and being patient as I worked through my crazy
2) Helio Sequence for being phenomenally talented and playing directly to and for me (I swear it’s true)
3) My throat—thank you for the opportunity to put this happiness stuff to work