Saturday, August 20, 2016

In praise of sleep, laughter and ice cream (and other stuff)

It’s only August, so there’s a lot of year still left to go, but so far 2016 has in many ways felt uniquely eternal and taxing. Lately I’ve been trying to pinpoint bits of the “why” behind this.

Some of it, I think, is due to absorbing the news of jaw-dropping horrors across the country and globe. Orlando, Baghdad, Nice… the sheer frequency of such incidents and the unrelenting hatred seem unprecedented, shaking my hope in that arc of progress that bends, slowly but surely, toward justice. The popular ignorance and inhumanity of Donald Trump hasn’t helped either. Where is the love, the compassion, the common ground and good will that keep society intact?

But as much as these broad and legitimate reasons for deep concern have definitely affected my outlook this year, the primary roots of my weariness are more personal, more selfish, if I’m being honest – and mostly just not that big a deal in the grand scheme of things.

But in my little corner of our fraught world, or at least in my head, those ultimately minor disappointments, injustices, frustrations and failures have felt pretty big. And they loom even larger when I’m not feeling well (I’ve had a bad cold this week at an especially busy time).

And so I think that’s kind of what’s been going on and getting me down more than usual – just a lot of what seem like backward, out-of-my-control steps this year, followed by mental exercises in deep-seated insecurity and self-absorption of every stripe: My hair sucks. Maybe I am just terrible at this and chose the wrong path. I should dress better. It’s all my fault. I should be faster at this. What is wrong with me? Why haven’t I mowed the lawn yet? The weeds are literally the size of trees. Why do I feel so behind? Are they right that I am actually going to hell? Why can't I fix this? What is wrong with me? How have I still not made a dentist appointment? Is it selfish of me not to plan on procreating? How have I made so little progress financially at this age? Everyone else seems to be juggling life just fine. Stop looking at Facebook. Get it together, self! Blahhhhh.

On the upside, 2016 has been a really good reminder to me of how much we need each other and that I am beloved and understood (and so are you) by the people who know me and love me anyway, even when I’m at my worst. To have people in our lives that time and again help us claw our way out of our zany heads and keep on keeping on is no small grace.

In addition, I’ve taken refuge in more ice cream and other indulgences than I’d care to admit in recent months, but hey, oh well. Ice cream is very delicious and helpful. So is keeping a sense of humor, particularly about ourselves. Sleep is good, too, and possibly my most key accomplishment of 2016 was investing in a new mattress. Definitely an underrated errand.