Good morning. The expression feels tired and bland; we say it all the time and rarely mean it. Perhaps we should consider the expression more seriously if we are to greet each day with vitality and make it through this difficult stretch. Socially isolated, poorly nourished, and under-exercised, we need a reason to jump out of bed now more than ever. We have an opportunity with this virus, the chance to bounce back even stronger. For every down, there is an up of equal magnitude.
Spring rain and a breezy, damp fifty-five degrees. Raindrops fall just heavily enough to need the windshield wiper, but light enough that you have to engage the wiper manually. If you used the automatic setting, the wiper wipes too frequently and the rubber makes an awful squeak. You can’t be anything but yourself, can’t do anything but live the life you were meant to live. Out the car window, you hear someone giving someone else a loud and sincere, “Thank you.” Have patience. Have patience and sit with your itchy, static restlessness, your malaise and anhedonia.
What is it that’s bothering you? What is bringing you down? Does it have to do with past experiences, or future concerns? Slow yourself, remember the moment. Pulling yourself out of a low place begins with the moment.
What life do you want to live, right now, in this very moment? Breathe, and acknowledge that there is literally nothing other than the present. The past you cling to and the future you yearn for, both of them are ghosts and all you will ever truly have is what’s in front of you right now. Your future self is just another present self waiting in an infinite line of moments. You are only ever here. Where do you want here to be? What will it take to get you there in a self-sustaining way? What behavior or action will help generate that place, that feeling, on a consistent basis (and given your realistic circumstances and obligations)?
It could be small and specific (you want to feel more awake, so you do ten push-ups, maybe forego the cup of coffee), or larger and more nebulous (you want to be a painter, so you stop daydreaming and make sure you actually paint every day, every chance you get, even if it goes nowhere). Keep turning to the healthy, authentic behavior that satisfies you in this very moment. Can you keep this up until it’s a habit, so that, on average, your moments are what you want them to be, so that, on average, you live a happy life?
The windshield wiper squeaks. It’s cool and rainy and maybe you’re doing something you don’t want to do. Maybe you’re moving apartments in the middle of a pandemic, single handedly moving a two bedroom into a studio with a sedan because no one is able to help you. Back and forth between apartments, back and forth. It starts to eat at you, the amount of shit that you have, and the recognition of how little of it you need. Back and forth with an endless stream of shit you don’t need, up and down with a bad mood. Do you need that coat rack, or that hat? The lamp shade and hundreds of pens, or the postcard that your sister sent you from Ireland three years ago? Your quicksand mood sinks in on itself, each thought worse than the one before it, swallowing reason into a black hole of tension and anxiety.
You stop at a red light, let rain gather on the windshield before manually flipping the wiper. It squeaks. You count the seconds, each one a pin prick.
You look out the window to the left and see a man in a motorized wheelchair taking his puffy little dog for a walk. The tension implodes on itself and dissipates, and the urge to cry overtakes you before you even know why.
It’s probably because the dog is in a wheelchair, too. Front paws on pavement and two back wheels. They pause at the crosswalk and the dog clambors up the side of the man’s wheelchair. The man picks up the dog and wedges the two little wheels between his legs, secures the dog in place. You forget about the move and the miserable feeling. The tide of emotion ebbs into gratitude.
Maybe you try to take a picture of the man and his dog to remember the moment, but the traffic light turns green. There was a release, and something changed for the better. You want to feel like that more, because that felt right. You know that sights like that are everywhere, if you’re willing to adjust your eyes. You consider that moment, and wonder how you can make it happen again. You have to get back to moving the shit that you don’t need, and you hope you can make it happen again.