This April Fool

Spring time is finally here in the Midwest.  Today it was 70 degrees and sunny.  That could change seeing how just last week we had a foot of heavy, wet snow with overcast skies and biting wind.  However, mud puddles and small pools of water are all that remain today.  I will take the murky pools and squishy grass even though walking and being outside is still a bit of an inconvenience.  Just the whisper of what is to come is enough to keep my hopes of a new beginning alive.   I fall for it every time.

A moment along the path
A moment along the path

At times, it feels as if life is merely a series of highways, bi-ways, country lanes and ruts in the road.  Right now, my life seems to be bumping along down a meandering two lane highway in an unknown part of the country.  It’s beautiful, exciting, a bit intimidating, and confusing.  One wrong turn onto an intersecting, unmarked lane seems to throw me off course and then I have to retrace my steps and figure where I’m going all over again.  Occasionally I get sidetracked and at other times I get afraid and begin to lose my faith on this journey of mine.  Sometimes I feel like I can’t put my life on cruise control and let the road take me where it will.  Instead, I try to arrange my dreams and goals in life in an orderly, linear, precise fashion:  trying to dictate to the road how and where it will turn and wind and arrive at the end destination I had in mind.

Spring's promise
Spring’s promise

Like any seasoned traveler, I should know by now that the journey is what matters, not the destination.  But, my brain isn’t always wired to think like that.  It seems I have to train and retrain myself every couple hundred miles or so.  I fall for the false advertisements of an easy life in which I should conform to the societal pressures and assumptions someone my age, my status and my position/role in life dictates.  I want to buck the system and find an empty, deserted and inviting road to travel down and explore my dreams, my wishes, my fantasies, and my ideas, but I am afraid sometimes to go down that path alone; and so I exit off the ramp and idle myself until I get brave again.   Occasionally, I cave to the external pressures that are out there in our world and let friends, family, acquaintances, and strangers somehow latch onto my dreams and try to tell me what I could or should do to the point that I become confused on what I want to do (or not do).  There are times I let my neurotic thoughts and own personal pressures get to me and I even try and talk myself out of what I truly want and need in my life because I don’t fully believe in myself or have been conditioned by past experiences to not trust my own intuition.  Those are dark days where traveling the open road seems arduous at best, and impossible at worst.

Then, a day like today comes along and breaks through the cloudless, gray skies and shines a light upon my path and restores my faith in myself and my dreams and desires.  That’s when my load becomes a bit easier to carry and I feel like I can keep going on this journey that will deliver me to another crossroads at another time.  Wanderlust kicks in, and I pick up my things and go on with my life and follow my path.  Call me a fool, but it’s the only way I know how to travel in this world.

Down the path I must go
Down this path I must go

Snow Days

It’s the end of March and I’ve been holed up in my house all day, clearing snow from my driveway, eating leftovers, and staring idly out the window wishing that I could see the sun.  Just yesterday it was 55 degrees and sunny.  I was even so bold as to open up my windows as I was cleaning my house.  Now, winter is back with a vengeance and it’s taking a toll on my brain.

The path I cleared in today's surprise snow.
The path I cleared in today’s surprise snow.

I don’t do well being idle.  It’s just not my nature.  When I got the phone call this evening informing me that the school I teach at is cancelled for tomorrow (which I had already assumed seeing how we have a foot of wet, heavy snow on the ground and it’s still snowing), I got upset.  Normally I love snow days.  Normally I would be grateful to have some time to do things around the house, to clean, to grade all those damn papers that I somehow keep assigning.  But not today.  Today I have been in a funk, trying to shut my chitter chatter of a brain off and stay in the moment.  It’s not working.  I’m letting my mind take me to wild, high anxiety places and not even yoga, a long nap, nor an hour’s worth of snow-shoveling has totally worked the anxiety out of my brain.  So, I’ve turned to writing, which is always my “go to” therapy.  There’s something about putting a pen in my hand and moving it across my blank paged moleskin notebook that is soothing to me.  Or in this particular case, hearing the keys click on my laptop as my fingers tap out the words that are swimming around in my brain.  Like walking or playing my guitar, writing is my “moving meditation”.  It soothes me for the time that I am doing it and allows me to get ahold of myself and reel my mind back in to a normal state of activity.

The upside to anxiety is that I know how to channel it into creative endeavors.  Today alone I have written a small story, worked on my “Valencia & Verona” collaboration, written this blog post, and am now thinking of going outside with my dog and building a snowman at 9 p.m. on a Sunday.  (That’s a bit of a downside of anxiety-fueled creative endeavors:  you sometimes get a “wild hair” up your ass and have to follow it all the way through, and the next thing you know it’s 5:30 a.m. the next morning and you’re tired as hell because you stayed up until the wee hours of the morning building snowmen or writing stories, or drinking coffee and telling yourself that you’ll calm down as soon as you just work through this one idea.)

I think I will take the risk and go outside and build that snowman.  It beats the alternative, which is an overactive mind and a body surging full of nervous energy.  My small, cozy townhome can’t contain either of them right now.  The roads are too slick to drive anywhere or do anything.  And come to think of it, I think playing in the snow was the only answer to dealing with this restless type of energy when I was a kid as well (I’m sure it’s the same for all of us who lived in a place that has all the four seasons in less than a week).  My dog, Sancho, won’t complain if I take him outside, even though he’ll sink all the way up to his shoulders in this late season Winter Wonderland.  Sancho is an old guy (14 to be exact), but there is something about snow that energizes him.  I might as well learn a little from him and seize the day (or the night to be exact) and since I can’t go on a walk, I can go outside and get some fresh air.  Maybe there is a snow angel in my future too?

Sancho romping in the snow this afternoon.
Sancho romping in the snow this afternoon.
Sancho running like he was 4 again!
Sancho running like he was 4 again!