A funny thing happened the other day, which is rare for me recently. Mostly I have been feeling that dark dread of another dreary wet winter, the dark mornings, the even darker afternoons.
It happened when I was on one of my group of friends infamous Messenger video calls. I have to add here and now that these calls have been a lifesaver for me. Despite all of the downturns in my life recently it has been a source of a lot of joy and laughs. Andrea and I have even used it quite a few times to call long lost friends from high school who probably thought it was a misdial when they saw who was trying to reach them on a Messenger call, completely out of the blue. We called it Messenger Roulette and it was always a success (and a surprise) for the recipients.
A large part of the laughs was using the crazy filters that would change from day to day. New filters were always met with enthusiasm, but often only one of us would have it so the rest of us had filter envy. The hit of the summer was the long standing favourite (and my personal go-to) which basically turned us all into Dr.Fauci’s. A sign of the times.
But getting back to the other day, I chose the round glasses filter. A very librarian look. I used to wear glasses and sometimes miss the gravitas a strong, bold frame can offer. Andrea said I looked like the Pixar character from Inside Out, the gloomy little blue emotion called Sadness. This was not a negative comment, but I could totally see the resemblance.
I didn’t mind, I even pouted my way into looking even more like that little character. After all, in the film (a must see) Sadness saves the day. We are often taught that being sad is a horrible place to be, and to either ‘chin up’, ‘cheer up’, or ‘buck up’. Everything up. For my money sometimes it’s good to be down. If you never have the downs in life, you can’t appreciate when things are up. They can be humbling and devastating for sure, but sadness can be very life affirming. I’m always suspicious of anyone who is perpetually peppy and perky, sometimes those people are hiding their deep pain and insecurities. I accept that contrast is what provides the light and dark contours to our existence.
I decided to post this today because it is indeed pouring down with rain. It’s grey and miserable. Cold. If there is any year to be wary of S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder), this is the one, folks. I managed to cope with a lot of deflating events since the initial lockdown and subsequent waves of restriction fairly well when the sun was shining. When getting out of the house was a pleasure to just go for a walk in the park. Buy some kick ass bread. Bask in the sun like I have never been able to at any other time in my life.
The bright and summery version of isolation and ‘new normal’ was indeed a sunny one with what I found to be a manageable day to day outlook. Now, it feels much less so. Christmas is coming, which has never been the easiest of times for me in general. I haven’t been home for Christmas since 1996. My work didn’t permit holidays in November/December, so going home was never an option. So I usually meet the frenzied Christmas period with a vague ennui. A Scrooge-ish attitude. This time around, I know there will be a massive amount of people who can’t go home, many for the first time ever because of the pandemic. And we’re only in the starting blocks for the season most likely to cause even more havoc with COVID, so we all need to buckle up.
It’s okay to be sad, and sadness is a vital part of the human experience. But don’t let it break you. There has been a definite change in the air for me as we have transitioned to the new season, and being optimistic about the future has been a little more tricky. I think the key is to put yourself out there, share what’s dragging you down, and have some solace that you’re not the only one feeling that way. I talk it out with my best friends on a regular basis, and thank my lucky stars that we have each other. The odd Netflix standup comedy special also has its own rewards and merits, so my advice is to never discount a good chuckle to disrupt a bum mood.
Sadness saved the day in Inside Out, and maybe she will save the day for me on the other side of this gloomy period I’m gradually adjusting to. My little sister Val is the epitome of the Joy character (it’s even her avatar on my phone). It would not be outlandish for me to picture her breaking into song, singing something we should all remind ourselves of: “The sun will come out, tomorrow…”