bunt sign

Friday, March 2, 2001

I had to fight off the Dark Demons today. I don't know why they showed up on a Friday, even though it was a gloomy day until the clouds began to break up this afternoon. I don't know why they showed up when I'm so close to getting caught up with my work. I don't know why they showed up when I've been so successful at fighting them off lately.

But as I was driving around this morning, every other car was going too fast or too slow. I was almost edged off the road by a city truck that decided to change lanes. Every noise I heard was loud and shrill, cutting through my brain like a laser. I was trapped in a whirlpool of sounds and colors. I was sliding down a sheer cliff, unable to get a handhold.

Then when I got back to work, every phone call came at exactly the wrong time, and every request was such an overwhelming burden that I wanted to crawl under the desk with my thumb in my mouth. Everything was happening at the same time, and none of it made sense.

So I had to go to work on the Demons. In my eternal quest to overcome, I have some weapons. It's not that I'm totally at their mercy, but I have to be mindful enough to take the actions needed. I just need to reach a ledge on my way down to the bottom, and hold on long enough to look up instead of down.

One of today's saviors was Don Henley. Wednesday night on The West Wing, Henley's "New York Minute" was featured. (In fact the title of the episode was "Somebody's Going to Emergency, Somebody's Going to Jail.") Okay, so all of his songs aren't exactly upbeat. Still, it's the sound of happier times.

Catching up on my email is usually good for a boost. Some wonderful people read this journal, and I'm lucky to have them and occasionally hear from some of them. It's a support network of friends, and it's a comfort. I've never had this much close contact with so many terrific people since… since… I don't know, third grade?

And reading other journals online reminds me that (a) I'm not alone, (b) some people have much greater problems than mine, and (c) many journal writers lead the kind of life I aspire to, filled with life, love and laughter. Oh, and (d) in half the world summer is coming to an end. (And huzzahs, by the way, to all the Diarist award winners, and to all the losers, and to all the never-been-nominateds, and to all the couldn't-care-lesses.)

Then there was the tape I found of episodes of The Simpsons and Malcolm in the Middle from last month that I hadn't watched yet. Now there's the way to break up the day. Two of the smartest, funniest shows on TV can almost make me feel smart and funny, on a day when I started out anything but.

At one point this morning, I walked out the front door and stood in the garden, perfectly still, just to hear the birds. Some of them even came around, to the higher limbs of the trees surrounding me. It just felt good to be part of something that has nothing to do with business or missed chances or the emptiness left by absent friends. I needed something I'd never find in a spreadsheet or a checkbook. Out there, for a moment anyway, I had no deadlines to meet or standards to live up to. I could just be.

Do you see where I'm going with this? Here's how I made today special. I looked around the big room and saw the bare walls, and realized there was no good reason not to put up the paintings that have been sitting in the closet under the stairs since I moved in here.

big room, bare walls

So I got out the kitchen step stool and a hammer and some picture hangers and started pounding holes in the virgin walls. I'm not completely happy with the way it all came out, but the paintings do add some character to the place. Somehow they also make it seem smaller, though.

back doorfront door

I can't say that all this directed activity is a long term answer, but for today it helped me win a small victory. I fought off the Demons for a day, and that at least gives me another tomorrow and the hope of one more successful battle.

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I will not lie down. I will not go quietly.