For many of us, these are uncomfortable times. The future looks murky; and we face the next few years with at best, some anxiety, and at worst, full blown fear. It is difficult to be a writer of humor at the moment. Nothing seems funny. In order to perk myself up, I have cobbled together my own set of coping strategies. I think all of us who feel as I do are doing the same. I thought I would share, even though nothing about them is funny.
I have decided to stop feeling guilty about certain behaviors. Instead of thinking of myself as a “slugabed,” I now feel that drinking coffee against a pile of pillows with a crowd of cats, listening to podcasts in the morning instead of leaping out of bed to “greet the day” is good for my soul. The fact that I have coffee stains on the front of all of my pjs, and I imbibe cat hair along with caffeine is of no consequence.
I take my time getting dressed. Not because I have all sorts of wardrobe decisions to make. Nope. I wear the same jeans, sweatpants, and tee shirts that I have been putting on forever. But now I look in the mirror and study my face as I rub in the “anti-aging” cream and try to note if it is effective. I give myself “mirror facelifts” and wish I looked that taut. I root through my sock drawer, wondering how much longer I should wait for the mate to that argyle sock to show up before I throw it away. As I pull the shirt over my head, I imagine what it might be like to be blind. I look at the bedspread and try to lose myself in the pattern of flowers and leaves. I rearrange the seven throw pillows. I admire my own decorating skills.
Downstairs, as I push the Swiffer around, I think about all of the millions of people who agree with me politically, and who won’t sit still for injustice or having a tyrant in charge. That gives me strength.
Then I take a deep breath. I think of what makes up the dust that I am gathering-could it be particles of the people who lived in this house a hundred years ago?
I think about those people, and what worried them. Disease-the kind that overcame children and swept them away, or crippled them. The Great Depression–what sorts of economies did the people who lived here practice? Did they worry about what they would eat? Did they sit by this fireplace, darning socks and feeling chilly, because they couldn’t afford all that expensive coal for the furnace? Did they think that things would never look up again?
I look out the window at the tree in my back yard that must be at least a hundred years old. Did a little girl, long dead, run around the base of it, humming? Did some fearless little boy try to climb it? How many bird’s nests have been in it? Then I think about what this house must have looked like when it was newly built in 1912, all bright and shiny–the tree in the back yard just a little sapling from the nursery. The bannister didn’t creak. The family that built it proud of all the latest things, like the sink in the guest bathroom, which is now an antique. Those people loved this house. They were happy here. Life went on then, as it will now.
Sometimes, I like to listen to classical music. Wait. There has always been music! Nobody stopped writing music. Even in the midst of World War Two, people wrote beautiful music. And words. Books were written. Poetry. Nothing stops us from creating beauty, even in times of terrible stress. Another deep breath.
These are the things I dwell on now. And when a headline stabs me or worry starts to creep in, I look out the window again. And I breathe.