I am in my own head a lot. This is nothing new. I’m always thinking. This is not a brag point or any implication that I’m a genius or anything. A car whose engine is running all the time isn’t necessarily going to be the fastest one. Just maybe the most tired.
The brain is quite a machine, and that reminds me of an old Emo Philips joke: “I used to think the brain was the most fascinating part of the human body. But then I thought, look what’s telling me that.”
When I was a kid, I daydreamed a lot. Usually about being a Jedi or a ninja or Spider-man or something like that. It was pretty exciting stuff. Having a big imination is awesome. Of course, as a grown up, that imagination often gets applied to something a little different but almost as fun. Anxiety!
Yeah, I can be a worrywart sometimes, but this is something else. As anyone who has suffered with anxiety knows, it has the ability to take things to whole other levels. I’m proud to say I’ve gotten help over the years and have made a ton of progress in this area. But doesn’t mean it’s not always hanging around, waiting for a chance to jump in.
It’s like Cottoneye Joe. You might forget about it for a while. You might forget that song even exists. Sometimes for years at a time. But if you let it back in your head, you’re not getting it out for a good week.
All things considered, I’ve held up pretty well over the past few months. I’ve definitely had my moments, but all in all I just take things one day at a time and try to keep my focus on what is right in front of me. That has been a helpful exercise for me, and admitedly it starts to get a little harder as things start to tiptoe into opening up.
Believe me, I would love for things to open up. I would love to go back to the days when I’d take the kids to the children’s museum or go out to dinner or go to the store without wearing a mask and without holding my breath anytime I walk past people. (Not that I do that…)
But seeing the first signs of people back out together in public spaces admittedly makes me feel…anxious. And I don’t know how to process it. While I fully believe we can’t all live in lockdown forever, I also don’t know what constitutes a safe return. Nothing has fundamentally changed. The virus is still out there and it’s still an odds game. But am I being too cautious? Can you be too cautious when you have a family to worry about?
As I mentioned a few days ago, our AC unit died on us and we had to have a couple of guys come over to install the new one. Monday was the day that happened, which meant having people in the house. Precautions were taken, masks were worn and all of that, but I admit it still makes me feel uncomfortable. And I still feel weird not shaking hands to say thanks. I also haven’t really gotten used to standing several feet away like they have the plague, because, well, maybe they do.
And like there aren’t already enough things tearing our society apart, opinions about how to handle this is another one. The tug of war between those who are ready to say “to heck with it” and get back to regular life, and those of us who are less sure. I know there are plenty of people who think we overreacted, but I look at 110,000 people dead in a few months and reports that probably another 60 million of us would have gotten infected had things not shut down for a while makes me think caution was the right move. But what comes next?
I remember back in January when I first became aware of Coronavirus, I had a very similar feeling of not knowing exactly where to land on the panic spectrum. I saw the images from China and I was very concerned and wary of what this could mean for the world, but also tried to tell myself to be reasonable and not jump to full on freak out mode. That would come later when I bought a ton of cannellini beans and went on toilet paper safaris.
Now we’re used to a lot of the weirdness, and the trick is finding the line between where are reasonable places to relax restrictions a little while still being as safe as possible. I know there are probably plenty of people who struggle with this and feel the tug to return to “normal.” Particularly the more all of us see friends, family and colleagues loosen up.
I don’t claim to have answers, and maybe that’s what vexes me. I’ve been around the block a few times. I had the idea of doing the Thinker pose for the photo up there because it reminded me of Dobie Gillis. I’m old enough to remember who Dobie Gillis is, so shouldn’t I be, like, wise and stuff? I have a white beard for crissakes. But grown up decisions are hard and they don’t get easier. Especially for a guy like me who spends a half an hour at the store deciding whether I like a shirt well enough to buy it.
We continue to play it safe and take the slow walk. We take it a day at a time and do the best we can. I do wonder if other people are feeling this way and how they’re dealing with it.
For now, we’re staying at home, and thankfully home is now a little more comfortable since our new air conditioner was installed. Oh, and also a new furnace. Turns out that was on the verge of croaking too. Because hey, why not? In for a penny, in for a pound. Many, many, many pounds.
Oh well. Such is life. Like I said before, there are much bigger things going on in the world right now. Maybe tonight I’ll simply accept that there aren’t always answers to be found. Perhaps I’ll indulge in a glass or two of bourbon and a few plays of Cottoneye Joe. After that, I won’t be thinking about much of anything.