21 October 2022 – Today I learned:

for the millionth time, that mood changes. That feelings don’t last, though they may last longer than we wish, though we may wish they lasted longer.

I woke up feeling weighted down. So low. So heavy. So flattened. On the brink of tears for the first time in a long time, with no thought attached to the sadness, the constriction. I plodded. I said No to something I’d agreed to do the next day, something involving other people. I could not imagine feeling able to do it, to spend time with other people, to go out and do.

But I had a dermatology appointment today, my regular 6-month check-up, long-scheduled and necessary, so I got in the car and started driving, feeling like I was filled to the brim with tears, with something unreleased, threatening to submerge me, to drown me, to tighten and squeeze the life out of me.

On the highway, I saw something on the shoulder, and I looked, and I shouldn’t have. It was a big hawk, maybe a red-tailed, hit by a car and dead, very dead, mercilessly, violently, suddenly destroyed in the midst of living its one life, and that’s all it took. I burst into tears, my throat tight, painful crying. I thought that if I were to die on the highway now, it would be fine, the world is so cold, so careless, so unconnected. I felt dragged under.

I drove on. Soon a kestrel, a very small falcon, flew overhead in front of me. My mind took it as something bright, something good, but my heart and body weren’t buying it.

Just before I exited the interstate, a bald eagle flew in a half-circle very near my car. I didn’t know what to make of that. Wow, I gaped, saying a desperate prayer that it didn’t land on the highway and get smashed.

I got to my appointment. I was keeping it together. In the exam room, waiting in a johnny, I rehearsed my lines for the doctor, who always begins by sitting facing me and asking, apparently sincerely and as if we have all the time in the world, how I’m doing. When he asked today, I said in an even tone that I was OK. He didn’t probe my answer as he usually does (“it doesn’t sound like things are great?” he might have responded); instead he asked how my summer had been. I couldn’t remember. Summer seemed long ago. He asked if I had plans for the fall and winter. That’s where it got more interesting.

I said I had hoped we would visit Jekyll Island again (where we’d last vacationed in Dec 2019) but that that didn’t seem likely now. He perked up — which is saying something, as he consistently has a peppy upbeat demeanor (and maybe it’s real) — and told me he was considering a side visit to Jekyll while he and his family were in Georgia in December to look at a college his son might attend next year in Atlanta.

While he examined me, this was the topic we kept returning to in between zap, zap, zap, and by the end of the visit, which as usual was a little nerve-wracking and ominous from a dermatological perspective, I felt a tinge lighter than I had before. Apparently thinking and talking about a place I love, even if I don’t know when I’ll ever return, loosened something, opened up a tiny but spacious window inside me.

Then I got lost trying to get home. Even with Google helping me, I spent an extra 20-25 minutes wandering the wilds of Etna, NH, feeling, really, like I was in a time warp. On one road I had to slow down for a horse drawn carriage. Four horses.

Some of the time I recognised where I was and some of the time I didn’t. By the time I got back to a main road, I felt I might, just might, be able to continue on to my salon group that meets on Fridays, for which I was now going to be an hour late; and when I got there, moments after locking my keys inside my car while parking, they were just getting going on the interesting stuff, catching up on the last week’s worth of everyone’s activities, thoughts, feelings, surprises, hopes, plans, and other things involved in living as human beings on this planet.

By now, the weight had all but disappeared. Perhaps something about the places — Jekyll in my mind, being lost in real life, time warping, the highway and the backroads, arriving where I was and settling in to the weekly connection there — displaced it. Or maybe it simply dissipated with time, or motion. I didn’t do anything to relieve it. It just eventually lifted, like a dark cloud bank that dissipates and moves off. Like weather.

I know it will come again, without warning or seeming provocation like today, or I may feel premonitions and rumblings as the dark clouds assemble. It’s weather. Often unpredictable, never constant, always changeable, sun and clouds here and gone.

But the weather doesn’t disturb the sky; the sky remains as always, despite the weather, which comes and goes. I keep learning this.


  1. I’m reading backwards, so I read tomorrow’s post before today’s! This post made me sad for everyone who forgets that moods can lift and acts on this kind of horrible mood, and also for those who suffer like this day after day.
    I had an emotional meltdown a little over a week ago, at the end of a three-day weekend where I had had to go briefly into work. It had been building for days, about not having enough time for myself, for my own pursuits. Not just because of work, but…everything. It wasn’t until in the aftermath of this mood explosion that I remembered that it was October. October is a month of mourning for me, and has been for over two decades. Somewhere deep in my brain/soul, I had remembered — just not consciously.

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