The muddied waters of a chronic depression have surrounded me for months. My highs haven’t been very high, my lows not too low. A mental shoulder shrug answers when I check in with myself. Autumn is in the air and with it, a sense of relief. Finally a season to suit my mood. Melancholy is in vogue again and the suntanned Pollyanna of summer is out.
The weeks following a long Pacific coast vacation became jumbled with school starts and appointments and busy-ness. I was taken off guard even though I’d planned well in advance. Life dragged me along, a dead weight of wry gloom. It felt like surrender. This is me now, I thought, driving my kid to activities, making sure everyone has clean skivvies, wandering listlessly through grocery aisles. Struggling to communicate, make eye contact, be present.
A man came to the door and tried to talk to me about God on Sunday afternoon. For the first time ever, when someone asked of my faith, I called myself an atheist. I’ve gone with agnostic in the past, but I didn’t want him to think he had a way in. And I’m not adept at explaining secular humanism or my true philosophy that none of us knows anything, but it doesn’t really matter as long as we’re decent to each other.
His proselytizing interrupted me while I was reading a book on reasoning, so I didn’t mind the discussion. He asked about what comforted me. I didn’t tell him about the fuzzy socks and coconut-scented lotion and burritos and piles and piles of books yet to be read. I pointed to my garden and muttered something about family. The fact that I was polite only encouraged him. The doorbell will ring again.
Menopause is enveloping me. Hormones infect my dreams with flying house centipedes and my husband leaving me in a souped-up red Prius. Somewhere along the way, I stopped thinking optimistically that my life was only half over and started thinking, oh shit, my life is beyond half over. My heart starts pounding and I frantically think about what I still want to do and how, if I haven’t done it at this point, it might be too late.
My weight circuit training class started up again. Over the years, training in Taekwondo, taking spin and weight classes, many of my instructors have been affable men in their late 20s who looked like they might not be able to complete the routines they were teaching. It was a way to make a little dosh, but not a way of life for them. No harm in that, but what I had in discipline, I lacked in inspiration.
My new instructor is a female competitive power lifter. My inability to move this morning attests to her training acumen. She is a tad gung-ho for a community ed class and the looks exchanged by my classmates suggest that there will be some drop outs. For me, this is a spark in the gloominess.
I think about this idea that people want to elect people to whom they can relate – someone they’d catch a game with or meet with at a coffee shop in yoga pants. I’d rather elect someone much better than myself, because whoever it is, they should appeal to my better nature. I want leaders, teachers and guides who raise me up through example – who are smarter and more adept than I. My circuit class instructor is much stronger and more athletic than I and in the end, I will be stronger and more athletic because of it.
Stephen Fry now cheers me daily. Several seasons of his radio program, English Delights, is out on audio book at my local library. Wordplay is my bliss. He introduced me to the term tmesis, which is when a word or phrase is split into two parts by intervening words or phrases. It’s heard mostly with informal speech, such as abso-friggin’-lutely.
I keep having these moments when I’m standing outside of my life. Even on vacation, with people I adore, I’d find myself detached and observing, thinking more than once, just give me a moment. Let me stand still. Let me be quiet. I can hear myself talking with people without being engaged. My life is broken into parts, by heavy realization and not much wisdom.
Autumn usually has me planning new goals and I have energy to pull them off for a few months. This year is different. My goals remain the same in regard to writing and fitness and family, but now there’s something in the middle of it all. Listen. Slow down. Sink into it. No need to rush to the next bit.