Blue Treasures


Last week was a rough week. The blues were relentless. I can be resilient most of the time, but I was just too blue to be any other color. Which is, ironically, characteristic of the blues as a musical genre, glorifying feelings of sorrow rather than providing a way out. That’s how I felt. Trapped.

When I’m blue, here’s what happens:

1.)   I spend an embarrassing amount of time watching TV

2.)   I let myself play stupid games on my phone until one or two o’clock in the morning

3.)   I begin to detach from friends and family…and my writing

4.)   Finally, I become generally unmotivated to do anything

5.)   And…there’s the crying…

Here’s what I normally do about it:

1.)   Talk to someone

2.)   A playlist of happy songs: a little Sister Act 2, some Mandisa, Ron Kenoli

3.)   Buy stuff

4.)   Reading my Bible and praying (It’s not the first thing, because I’ll be real…it wasn’t the first thing I did last week.)

5.)   Working-out

None of it helped as much as it normally does. I could not seem to snap out of it.

Saturday, after finishing some stuff at the church, I spent two hours sitting on a bench between two trees, crying. I prayed too, and I stopped crying. After a while, I thought I’d see what else I could add to the list of feel-better-things. I walked to the playground to see if I could still climb up the pole. I could. Then I sat on a swing. It kind of helped.

Feeling the onset of sunburn, I resolved to go to Barnes and Noble (it got knocked off the list as other things were added, but I decided to revive it). I wandered the fiction section. Non-fiction and especially the children’s section are my go-to, but I’ve nothing published, and the goal was to feel better, not worse. After the fiction, I went to the front of the store where they keep all the journals and magnets and calendars and bookends. I found this:

It’s Gonna Be Okay: A journal to reassure myself when I’m overwhelmed by the creeping sense of impending disaster and the all-encompassing fears both specified and vague that colonize my mind, body, and soul, all of which, from the completely far-fetched to the sometimes probable, do me no good to contemplate and in fact make me miserable, and even though optimism may be unself-aware and ill-placed, I know I’ll be happier as a blind fool than as a clairvoyant apocalyptic.

Each blank journaling page is paired with a quote. I stood there and read the whole thing. A number of quotes jumped out at me, but this one in particular.

If you are not happy you had better stop worrying about it and see what treasures you can pluck from your own brand of unhappiness.” –Robertson Davies

It made me realize I’ve been trying to make myself feel better, instead of accepting how I feel, because I didn’t want to feel it. Being okay with how you feel is something I tell people often. It turned out I wasn’t taking my own advice.

In getting ready to leave for Berkeley, I got things settled way ahead of time, so now I have all this time to do whatever. That “whatever,” as it turns out, is to think too damn much. And to worry. I worry about my church, my family and my friends. I can’t do anything in my presence or my absence to prevent whatever is going to happen, but I feel I have more control if I’m present. I still don’t want to give them fully to God. Mostly, though, I am already grieving the loss of them. I won’t be losing those relationships, but they will significantly change. I’m not ready to be grieving. I’m not ready.

The quotes made me feel less alone. They helped me more than my prayers and my Bible. Did I feel bad about that? A little. Should I have? Probably not.

If you are looking for God, you find Him. Even if you aren’t looking for Him, you find yourself stumbling into Him. Speaking our language is one of God’s greatest abilities. He speaks to our souls in individual and intimate ways. He spoke my language that day. I not only knew I was loved, but I felt it too. It didn’t make the blues go away. It was more an act of solidarity, because that’s what love does. Love says, Yeah, this totally sucks. I am blue for you. I am feeling it with you. You are not alone.

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