I once wrote a song called “Black Dog.” No, that’s not quite right, it came rolling out without invitation one day when we were about to leave for a long tour right after having done another long tour. I spent three days cooking and doing laundry and getting new markers, paper, and library books for the kids, and as we were about to head out for Kansas I lost it, just collapsed into a noisy wet heap of bellowing sobs and snot. I was mortified but helpless, unable to pull myself together, and Conrad did the only thing he could: piled the kids and me into the van, gave me a roll of paper towel to sop myself up, and started driving west.
The Black Dog was how Winston Churchill referred to his depressive episodes. I inherited the depression gene from my father and unfortunately passed it on to our kids, and we’ve all dealt with it in our own ways. I haven’t had any over-the-top episodes like that for a long time, but between Covid and MAGA I’m having to pay attention to my baseline. On average, it’s pretty low now, and I sometimes catch myself having a hard time figuring out how to get up and take the next step.
Peace and joy are my allies. By some inner revolutionary magic I have become a morning person and I have the sunrise to myself every morning. I’ve come to recognize the carefully orchestrated layers of dawn bird-song, which ones sound off at the first gray light, who joins in later, and who serenades the first spears of gold. I rejoice in seeing the sun’s procession along the horizon, now always just a smidgen to the left of yesterday’s appearance.
Our Sunday treks to watch the ocean are a tonic for me; those waves wash tangles out of my soul. Touch is essential; CB and I embrace often. And my two cats are my secret weapon. They have taught me to accept the simple comfort of being purred upon. I usually take a short nap after dinner, and am learning to feel no guilt about lying on the couch for another fifteen minutes, accepting their furry warmth and thinking about nothing whatever. If I have to do another life, please let me be a cat.
Just wanted to say, I enjoy you little newsletters, and also to thank for the birthday wishes you sent the other day. Good grief, I’m 88. Why I’m still here is beyond me. I’m strangely healthy, but Rocket 88, I am not. So each day I wake up surprised. Anyway, just saying Hi, nice that you all are here too. Cheers.