I am in the midst of a transformation, but I don’t know just what I’m transforming from, nor what I’m becoming. I know only that the man who inhabits my body is undergoing a metamorphosis of some significance. No longer do I find sustenance and solace in writing. Writing has become a chore that I choose to avoid, a responsibility I guiltily yet gleefully shirk. I seem to have abandoned the commitment I made earlier this year to lose significant amounts of weight, replacing it with unchecked eating and drinking, as if my objective were turned on its head; as if my goal, instead, is to outgrow my clothes. Though I’ve never been a particularly social person, I have been much more social in the last two years than ever before; but that, too, has gone off-course. I find myself withdrawing from social contact, enjoying—or perhaps tolerating—my own company instead of the company of others.

Perhaps the intrusion of world events have changed my perspective. A truck intentionally mowing down hundreds of people, killing eighty-four, can change one’s perspective. When suicide bombers become commonplace and almost unnoticed, one’s view of the world can shift. Episodic violence by police against unarmed black men sours one’s mindset. The seeds of happiness are paved over with impenetrable concrete when such stuff takes on a grim, resigned normalcy.

As I think through this recent development—or perhaps I should say this recent decline—I recall suggestions, from people who ought to know, that giving in to and accepting negativity is a choice. That bothers me. It bothers me because I think that’s precisely what I’ve been doing. I’ve lost the fire that, in times past, would have recoiled against gloom and doom. Or, rather, I’ve allowed the fire to be smothered by a choking fog.

These words slipping from my fingers to the keyboard and onto the screen are having an effect on me. They are telling me to cast off this grey blanket and spray icy water over the pall under which I’ve been living, shrinking from the light. And so I shall. After entertaining friends who will visit next week, I will return to early morning walks, sensible eating, and positive thoughts. Even before then, I’ll work on the positive thoughts. And I’ll avoid politics to the extent I can.

This post began on a down note. It isn’t ending on one.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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3 Responses to Self-Help

  1. John says:

    Thank you, Mary Lou. Your words mean a lot. And I loved you the moment I met you!

  2. Mary Lou says:

    You, like most writers (maybe more so) are a sponge of human emotion. You feel deeply. It’s part of why we love you and what makes you a good writer. I find it curious that you write less when you feel this way, because as I sink I write more. Putting the emotion on the page in all its glory or pain has always helped me through the most difficult times of my life – and I have had a few.

    As for not liking yourself, I liked you when I first met you and I consider you a friend today – a friend I care about. So . . . buck up and pull yourself out of this. Handle what you can and either forget the rest or use it in a story, because that’s what we do.

    Love you just the way you are.

  3. Mary Lou says:

    You want me to tell you what I think here or in person?

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