Some days, I just shut down. Climb into a personal manhole and pull down the lid. Wallow in the sewers of my psyche. These are not the best days.
This week, Tuesday was shut down day. My own personal rolling blackout. The alarm went off at 6:00, as usual. My first thought of the day was: “No, I can’t.” That was enough to push me to turn off the alarm, roll over and sleep till 8:30.
“No, I can’t,” became my mantra for the day. At 9:00, I sat down to write the first of two play reviews scheduled for ragged sitting. At 10, I realized I hadn’t written a word. “No, I can’t. I just can’t.”
By 11:00 I accepted the truth that the reviews were not gonna get written, and stopped fighting the inevitable. I figured I’d work on this column. But, the mantra continued: “No, I can’t.” Which gradually morphed into “No, I won’t.”
Sometimes refusing to play is the only way out of the game.
With no job and no boss to answer to, no events to attend, no meetings to endure, no social responsibilities to live up to, and no existential wilderness crises, it is difficult to do much else, than eat, sleep, and a few unmentionables. I did binge about five episodes of “Frazier.” And then I watched “Batman Begins.”
Whatever else you say about it, Christian Bale was really cute in 2005.
The toys were fun. The story ridiculous. And I found I was jealous of Batman. He was beginning something. I’m stuck in neutral, like all my friends.
Is this paralysis cowardice? I don’t know what to think of my life.
Time was I had get up and go to spare. I might be angry, or excited, joyous or irritated, engaged or escaping. But always, I was on the move.
Where can I go now? From bed to desk to refrigerator with an occasional walk around the block or a drive to nowhere. I run the gamut from hungry to angry to lonely to tired. I know the solution to this kind of mood: get out and do something!
My biggest accomplishments of the past year: I can now meditate for a half an hour instead of just fifteen minutes. I’ve learned I can feel pretty okay with myself even when I’m not doing anything. I’ve become a connoisseur of fifty shades of ennui.
The biggest puzzle about this year of COVID isolation is that I can’t figure out if I just gained a year or lost one. I’m not even sure I can tell the difference.
I am sure of this: When it’s over I will not be the man I was going in. Whatever fate had in store for me, it has no longer. The stores of fate have been swept clean.
I’m ready for something new.
Are you too?