All the things I like to do best involve sitting still, really: reading, drinking coffee, blogging, sitting in a dark bar, lying at the beach, sex.
Lately I’ve been going outside 15–20 minutes a day because I read somewhere that if you get coronavirus, low Vitamin D gives you trouble, somehow. Something about for best results use Vitamin D and shake well before using or something. It’s probably part of that huge worldwide scam that is coronavirus. Probably the Vitamin D makers are in on it too.
Naturally, I sent off for some Vitamin D gummies on the Amazon, there, and I follow it up with the 15–20 minutes a day of sun. Edsel always goes with me and splats onto the grass like he’s dead.
I used to spend entire summers doing this, which explains why I have the complexion of Granny from the Beverly Hillbillies today.
I remember, though, those summer days on a beach or at a pool or just in our yard with the reflective blanket (see above ref to Granny complex).
What I can remember about those days is the smell of orange Ban de Soliel
[by day. by night. by Saginaw.]
and my AM radio playing Magnet and Steel.
But I also remember my mind.
As far back as I can recall, I’ve had a racing mind. I’ve always been an anxious person, and why? What have I got to be anxious about? And people seem hostile to anxious people, like I can help it.
The best thing I’ve known to do about my anxiety is make fun of it.
A long time ago on this here blog, I had a sidebar that read Disease du Jour, where I listed what horrid disease I thought I had that day. Making my scary thoughts seem absurd was my way of minimizing it.
Once I was at a party that my in-laws had, I forget why. One of their friends said to me, “I was reading your blog for awhile, but once you put up disease du jour, you lost me.” I took it down. That was back when I gave two shits about what people thought.
I remember all sorts of times I should’ve been serene and happy but my mind was racing with upset instead: at the beach with friends for a weekend, at a spa with friends for the weekend—maybe I should stop doing things with friends for the weekend.
It’s been something I hate about myself and I’ve felt powerless to stop it. I tried antidepressants and therapy and meditation and I don’t know what all, but if you get me still for longer than 8 seconds, I get thoughts, usually about men. Does he still love me? Is he cheating on me during this weekend while I’m with friends?
Or if I’m single: Will I meet a man soon? What if I never do?
Ugh. I’m smarter than this, y’all.
Sometimes I’d be anxious about something other than men, but whatever it was, it would swirl around in me nonstop, driving me NUTS, and I’d get no peace. What I came to notice is anything that involved me sitting quietly meant I’d get the swirls and would leave me terribly upset. And please note most of my favorite things involve sitting quietly. So mostly I’d be swirling.
It’s been a horrendous way to have one’s brain work and it’s happened for years.
I remember one beautiful morning at this cottage my mother had in northern Michigan. I was having a—wait for it—weekend with friends, and my ex-best-friend and I were out on my mother’s little boat, on this little lake. A heron flew over us, white and huge across the early morning sky.
“Maybe it’s some sort of sign,” I said.
“I hope it brings me peace,” said my ex-best-friend. That’s what had brought us together: we both had the roiling mind and we had no idea how to stop it.
Last night I headed to my backyard to watch my fireflies. It’s a ritual I started this month, after all my work is done. If I’m going to be stuck at my house till god knows when, I’ve devised this little routine for myself where I write down all the things I want to get done that day, so I won’t find myself having done nothing at all. Once I’ve done them all I head out to the fireflies.
So last night I was out there, watching fireflies and admiring Edsel. There was a breeze, and also a bird chirping what sounded like the opening notes to Beethoven’s fifth. Chirp chirp chirp CHIRRRRRpppp. He did that over and over. Chirp chirp chirp CHIRRRRRpppp.
Does he know he’s doing that? I wondered. Is this where Beethoven got the idea? Wait, no, Beethoven was deaf. What the heck, then?
I was thinking this when I heard a noise and Edsel ran to the fence. There was my neighbor. She’s young and she’s confided in me she’s in a turbulent relationship. She was walking to her door, fast, and I could see she was about to cry. I didn’t mean to be looking, but our eyes locked.
“Are you okay?” I asked. Geez, I sounded so kind. Kind is not my go-to but it came right out of me like a regular functioning human. She shook her head yes as she raced inside but I knew the answer was really no. I found myself wishing she’d tell me what was wrong. She could have sat six feet from me in the backyard; I’ve already measured it out if ever I get a visitor.
But then it dawned on me.
My mind hadn’t been racing. I’d been sitting here for half an hour, just watching fireflies, thinking, well, nothing, really. Just thinking about what was going on in front of me. There were no dark thoughts, there was no swirl. The neighbor’s swirl reminded me I was lacking my own.
I’d been sitting there in peace. The heron had flown over.
I wonder how long I’ve been doing that.