I’m sitting at what used to be my friend Ezra’s desk, in our New York office, when I first hear the news. When I learn about the “historic, crippling storm” that is moving into the Tri-State area. I don’t pay much attention initially. I don’t have to fly out today; my flight isn’t canceled; this won’t affect ME. But the buzz builds rapidly throughout the 10thfloor about this massive Nor’Easter, and I start to feel little flutters of anxiety rising in me, bubbling toward the surface like the carbonation coming up the straw in my Diet Coke.
What if I can’t go to yoga tomorrow?
What if I can’t buy my stepfather’s birthday gift?
What if I can’t go to Hoboken to see my godson?
What if I have to miss my friend Sonia’s workshop?
What if my flight IS canceled?
What if I get stuck in NJ?
What if it all changes?
I don’t do well with change.
My trip is so carefully crafted, every minute efficiently and effectively planned by the good little Type-A that I am. There is no margin of error. There is no room for late arrivals or backups on the runway. The timetable is set. This is how I operate. Yet in the span of a few hours, it seems to all fall away, evaporating before the first snowflake has even formed.
By the time we get the emergency text alert from the weather service—“Prepare. Avoid Travel. Check media.”—I’m free-falling in a downward spiral of my own pity.
Nothing in my life goes right. The mailroom can’t find my package. My mom is upset. My friend is stranded overseas. My car service is an hour late. My grandfather is annoyed. My sister is crying. I say something thoughtless to my boss. It takes forever to get home. Woe is me, woe is me.
I am officially in a funk.
This is dangerous territory. I don’t emerge easily. I can lose an hour, a day, a weekend to the funk. It grabs hold of me, wraps its arms tightly all the way around me, and suffocates me until I surrender to it completely. I always end up here.
Somewhere in the middle of this free fall, I stumble upon my lovely friend Sara’s blog post from earlier in the day, the one titled “Suffering is a Choice”.
Don’t you hate when you are deep in the throes of your pity party and someone more enlightened than you tells you that you are choosing to suffer? She’s right of course, but I don’t want to listen. I don’t want wisdom. I don’t want enlightenment. I want to crawl into my hole and stew in my crap until I don’t want to anymore.
Except…something in her writing permeates deeper than the funk has. Something sticks.
I actually DON’T want to feel like this. I don’t want to wallow. I don’t want to let my day, or my weekend or one more minute be ruined by this mood.
My mom can still be upset. My grandfather can still be annoyed. My sister can still be crying. But maybe I can be different. Maybe I can be the one who changes, in the middle of everything I can’t change.
This is unfamiliar territory. I don’t know where to start so I just start.
I try meditating (this feels stupid)
I make a joy list (well, I don’t really because I’m too annoyed to write anything)
I make a joke (not really that funny unfortunately)
I make cookies (oh, this helps)
I read (this helps more)
I listen to music (ok, getting there)
And slowly…it lifts. It releases. It burns off like the early morning Santa Monica smog that I am almost accustomed to waking to. When you can’t see through it, and you think it will always be there and you will never have a sunny day again…it lifts.
Earlier in the night, I texted my friend: “Who can I pass this bad mood along to?” She would understand; it got her this week too. I thought maybe she passed it to me, and I would pass it on to the next person, like that crazy flu that everyone is just passing around.
I’m done with it. I’m passing it along. If you want it, it’s yours. You get to choose. You always get to choose.
It’s always your choice.