Hi. I’m Hal. Welcome to “Living in a Body.” I extend a special welcome to all the new sunscribers this week. I hope you’ll introduce yourself in the comments. Please click the play button above to listen to the podcast version which is accompanied by original music. Thank you!
A Puddle of Sadness
It's been a year now that I've been writing this publication. Somehow, week after week, for an entire year, I've successfully come up with a personal essay to share with you on Saturday mornings at 8:08 am EST. To be honest, I don't know how I did it.
Most mornings, I sit in bed with my laptop on my lap and I face the familiar discomfort of chronic illness and a seeming void of creativity. One of my symptoms is a difficult-to-describe numbness in my brain that reaches out to my limbs and makes me want to curl back under the covers. I struggle to believe that this body holds any more good stories to tell.
So my practice is to show up to the page and simply write words. I call them my morning pages. I write down all the random garbage that comes into my head and I don't stop until three pages are filled. Here's a short highly revised example from yesterday.
"I don't like February. I don't like Valentine’s Day and I don't like February. And just to be clear, I don't like people who like February. And I don't like people who like Valentine's Day — those people who always have love in their heart and a smile on their face. I guess I used to be one of those people. I used to like Valentine's Day but I'm done with it and I have nothing else to write but my dislike of the holiday. You'd think that after all this writing practice, I would have become much better with words. You'd think I'd have more deep thoughts and profound realizations, but all I have is complaints about February. I just feel so sick and my arms are weak and my ears are ringing and I'm all alone with my cat in this big house and I can’t think of anything to write. I guess I could try to write the dark night of the soul story or the more hopeful handshake story or the more positive paper route story, but it all seems way too difficult. I'm tired and I'm sick and I just wanna curl back under the covers. Ugh. My brain feels numb."
As you can probably tell, I've been in a bit of a funk lately. I know that I've been through funks before, but this one feels funkier. It feels so permanently February, like a never ending Valentine's Day. The truth is that I've been sad. Some nights I cry myself to sleep and sometimes I wake up in the morning and I'm still crying. Some mornings, I can't think of anything to write but words about sadness.
This is what happened yesterday. It was fifty degrees out and I took my three wheel scooter on the mile loop that follows the Cuyahoga River into town and connects up with West Main Street where I ride up the hill past the library on my way home. This time, I stopped at John Brown's Tannery Park to sit on top of a picnic table that overlooks the river. I sat down and the whole world turned gray. Everything was gray, inside and out. I felt like I was melting into the gray. I sat there hunched over on the picnic table and I wept. I bawled like a middle aged man hunched over on a picnic table in February, like it was already Valentine's Day. And while I wept, I felt a deep sense of loss and loneliness, like I was all alone in the world and my life has become just a puddle of sadness. When I was done crying, I headed toward West Main and the feelings eventually passed, like they usually do. Before I headed up the hill, I did some wheelies in that parking lot across from the library.
I'm trying to be grateful for the courage to feel. They say that it’s better to feel than to hide from the feelings. As I look back, I'm inspired to give thanks to the picnic table for supporting me as I wept. I want to hold that guy sitting there on the table and whisper in his ear that this too shall pass. This February will pass. These feelings will pass. Stay with it, Hal. Spring is coming. Hang in there and I'll see you on the other side.
Thank you so much for reading. Thank you for listening. Enjoy living in that body of yours today. I love you. ❤️ Hal
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