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.
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?