Every now and then I get overwhelmed with emotion. Not really overwhelmed. Overwhelmed isn’t the right word. It’s more that it just pops up, welling from inside. Most people say that this originates in your heart. My heart is broken; my heart hurts; my heart aches; my heart flutters; it skips; it misses a beat. But usually for me this sensation has nothing to do with my heart, at least in terms of location. My heart, it seems, is just a muscle. This feeling happens below my heart, somewhere from the middle of my stomach to a place below my heart. It’s a swelling of sorts, an emotional swelling.
I’ve spent the last week sequestered in my apartment, wrapped in blankets, watching movie after movie, TV show after TV show, and sleeping. I slept most of the time, and am finally feeling better. Not quite 100% but am finally out of the woods. I’ve lost a bit of weight, eating only oatmeal will do that for you, and am feeling pretty weak. It’s going to take a bit to get my strength back. I hate being sick.
I try to keep busy. I try to stay active. Obviously work helps out with this, given my hours, but when I’m off work I try to keep my hours filled. I just need to not sit at home, do nothing. So I go for runs, I put on my iPod and walk Manhattan, I strap on my blades, I read, I get coffee, I do anything. Whether there are people around is without consequence. They don’t have to be, though it’s nice when they are.
The point is to keep distracted, to not put myself in a position where it’s just me and my mind, and nothing else. Because then my thoughts can run away from themselves, can stretch and torment me like you wouldn’t believe. I keep myself occupied. Because that well, that circle, that place below my heart, can well up with something, and when I haven’t been active for awhile it doesn’t take much. And it’s not a bad thing; it’s just constant if I’m not doing something, not active, not moving. So as I said, it’s not a bad thing, but with repetition it becomes unbearable, a sort of oblivion.
I think the two depressions I’ve suffered through in my life—the severe depressions, the life questioning kind, not the normal up and down peaks and valleys I normally have—have been made worse by this quality. Think about it, depression is a form of immobilization, a paralysis. You don’t do anything. You don’t want to do anything. You have no energy plus or minus; you just kind of sit there. No impulses or any sort. I think, just theorizing, that my big depressions were prolonged by this peccadillo. I didn’t want to do anything, and so my head went off the tracks, headed somewhere else, leaving just electric jolts of emotion every now and then; emotion that you find no ability to deal with.
When people cry for no reason, when you seek to comfort them, ask them what is wrong, and they shake their head, they say, “I don’t know,” usually snorting and gurgling and stuttering, “I’m just crying.” It’s this type of swell that I’m talking about. Something that comes from somewhere, but nowhere, that comes quickly, sneaking up from behind, spinning you around and sitting on your chest with its weight, and that’s where the sensation comes from. And you either feel like you’re going to cry, or you smile for nothing, or you laugh suddenly, or you just get in a mood.
And if I haven’t kept busy, given myself little exercises to accomplish, put myself in places to see other things and take in my surroundings, it gets to be a bit too much. Which is why I keep myself active. Which is why the last week has been so absurd. I was sleeping for much of the days, but the isolation, as I started to feel better, has brought on a sort of cabin fever. Just the buzzing in my chest that’s had me mentally bouncing around the rooms of my apartment the last two days.
And I’m not going to sleep well tonight, just because my brain hasn’t been able to deal with itself, hasn’t had its normal releases. It’s like exercise, or a sort. If I don’t get my head out there, interacting on some level with something outside myself, take it out for a run around the block, make it sweat and work a bit, it can turn in on itself, focus only on me.
I balance these things. I write a lot, extract the thoughts and put them onto paper, or shape them in a story. I get out a lot. With my friends and just alone. And after a bit I’ll give myself a day to myself; just me in my apartment. Balance.
But I’ve been trapped here for a week now. I only left my apartment twice: to go to the doctor and to go rent some movies and buy some oatmeal and soup. Other than family and friends calling to check in, and me feeling too sick to have much conversation at all, it’s been me here, and now that I’m almost well I cannot wait to get to work tomorrow. Even though I can already tell I’m going to be tired from not sleeping tonight, I cannot wait to get around other people, to leave this apartment for hours at a time. Even though I know that no one I worked with covered for me, that I’m going to be returning to piles of things that could have been dealt with, I still cannot wait.
I could easily start some more thought tributaries, but they would do nothing more than build on things I’ve already said. You can see what a mess my mind gets into when left to tend for itself. It’s like an adolescent with too much money and too many opportunities. If I let it tend to itself, it’s just going to get me into trouble.
Separate final topic. This is something I’ve been thinking about while watching the coverage of Hurricane Frances on the news. Crazy fundamentalist evangelical leaders love to use national disasters as an inappropriate opportunity to scold the American people. Usually we are amoral, and many times we brought whatever tragedy on ourselves somehow. I remember when one prominent infamous fellow said that Sept. 11 was God’s justice against the US for the sins of homosexuality. I know there are people who actually but into such horseshit, but for the most part, I hope most of us dismiss it as the addled ramblings of a disturbed mind. Still, I’ve begun to notice that they always interpret events to their benefit. Of course they do, that’s human nature. But what I’ve also begun to notice is that no one on the other side of the debate ever publicly offers an opposite interpretation, another viewpoint.
For example, no one would go on TV and point out the odd symbolism involved in Hurricane Frances the second hurricane to devastate Florida in a month. This huge wind and water funnel the size of Texas wreaking havoc on a state that was so good to Texas four years ago. This gargantuan storm that was tracking to Florida the same week the Republicans hold their convention in New York to nominate for re-election George W. Bush, the man who said he felt God put him in the White House. Events can be interpreted to mean anything we want them to, but doesn’t the symbolism of this storm seem like such an obvious rebuke of George Bush by God?
Of course not. The reason you never hear alternate interpretations is that most people are too decent to not be shocked and saddened by horrible events. Even though we do everything to prove otherwise, most of us, down deep, beneath the outer tugid detritus, are too good not to be effected by such large scale loss. We are too busy wondering what they can do to help, hoping for the safety of those most effected to read signs into these things. And, in truth, most people of faith, most people of various religions, I would think, or hope, are as saddened as they are sickened that such event are used for slick opportunism instead of words of hope.
Anyway, that’s what I’ve been thinking.
Oh, by the way, I'm back. My posts are back. I promise that the stuff here will get clearer. I’d been away for a bit too long, and had to ramble my way through this first one. Did you miss me?