I hope you have a sunny day. No matter who you are, no matter where you live. I hope the sun shines. I hope you wander outdoors and let the sunlight overtake you like chickens on a junebug.
Yes, I know sunlight won’t cure all problems. But it’s a good place to start.
I say this because I know how sad you get sometimes. Also, I know how this feels because I get sad, too. Which is why I can safely say: you’re not fooling anyone when you claim you’re doing okay. I think you and I both know this is wholesale-grade malarkey.
You’re in the dumps. Admit it. Sure, you keep a brave smile nailed to your face, but it’s plastic. This is a pandemic. You are having a hard time right now. Believe me, I get it.
Pandemic-wise, one of the most difficult things for me is bumping into friends who pretend that this year hasn’t been hard. They say they’re doing fine. They shrug off all problems and insist that the last 300-some days have been a day at the goofy golf.
“No way!” they say. “This year hasn’t changed me.” They insist they’ve kept smiling. They’ve had fun. They’ve installed a deck. Rented a blow-up bouncy house. I find myself privately wishing for extremely committed door-to-door evangelists to visit their neighborhoods.
Because this year HAS been hard. You try to be cheerful. But no sooner have you convinced yourself to be upbeat than you wander into the supermarket and things just get weird.
Sometimes it feels as if your every movement is being narrated by Rod Serling. Employees wear hazmat suits. Cashiers in welding masks take your temperature with radar guns.
Although by now you’re used to this. It’s not nearly as bad it was when the whole pandemic started. Boy howdy. Remember those first few months? Those were a shock to the old cardiovascular muscle, weren’t they? Let’s be honest: they were hell.
Every day something frightening was happening. It was like dominoes falling. Schools shut down. Lives were halted. The shortage on Charmin Ultra Soft left me feeling raw.
I don’t need to replay the grisly events, you were here. These things made you blue. And you’ve BEEN blue for over a year. Some mornings are better than others, but each day is an uphill charge.
This is especially true when the weather gets bad.
Don’t get me started on crummy weather. I can take the hard times; I can get through the decimation of civilized normality; I can endure the endless fighting between disgruntled people; I can even tolerate generic supermarket-brand toilet tissue that is suited for sanding boat hulls. But when it rains for 40 days and 40 nights, I become a nutcase.
This year in Florida we have had so much rain that I’ve been stuck inside for weeks sometimes. And when my backyard floods, my house feels like Alcatraz.
I realize not everyone has been trapped at home like me. Many are out there in public every day, earning a living. That’s harder.
One young woman wrote to me and said since the pandemic began, she has been working overtime in retail, sometimes wearing a paper mask for 12 hours daily.
Another man wrote and said he’s been working three jobs just to afford Internet, phone, and Michelob.
So don’t tell me you’re not blue. How stupid do you think I am? Don’t answer that.
Maybe the hardest part this year is the idea that the normalcy we grew up with has disappeared. Will we still be shaking hands when this is over? How about hugs? Karaoke microphones? I read another article claiming that this coming year, some churches are doing DIY baptisms.
Which probably isn’t true, but it doesn’t matter whether it’s true, because the mere idea gets you down. Pondering the future is a surefire cake recipe for sadness. Uncertainty is the pits. Fear is even worse.
Fear. It’s in our drinking water. Nobody tells you that depression feels a lot like moderate fear. Fear makes you lose that glint of giddiness you once felt. Fear makes food taste blah. Fear changes your brain.
All your good habits go out the window. Bad habits multiply. Little Debbie, for example, is probably not one of my proudest pastimes.
Meanwhile, people like you and I are fully aware that this isn’t the WORST time in history. We’re not dummies, we understand that, yes, our ancestors had things far worse than we do. We understand that compared to our tough and heroic forbears we modern Americans are cranky toddlers. But this kind of thinking doesn’t make anything easier. This doesn’t soften my toilet paper.
It is for this reason that I wish for you a happy, bright, blindingly sunny day. One you can sink your teeth into.
Certainly, I realize mere sunshine won’t take away sadness. But perhaps knowing that a guy you’ve never met feels like you do will remind you that you aren’t alone out there. It’s not much.
But it’s a good place to start.