Sing the Sad Song (It might help)
Winter is always rough for me.
It could be the shortened days. It could be seasonal affected related. It could be the lack of activity, or the often-earnest attempts at improving my health that seem pre-destined to fail. But whatever the reason, I'm not always at my best between New Years and basically Easter.
And you know what? That's ok.
I always felt like something was wrong with me. Like I could somehow identify that I had a 'problem' and do something to directly tackle the problem head-on. This Problem Mindset can cause all sorts of emotional fatigue, as you are blindly attacking an issue but really are attacking a particular brain chemistry in your own body. It creates shame spirals. It creates doubts about your will power, about your ability to accomplish simple tasks. Like "I can't even pull myself out of this funk how can I possibly succeed at anything?" If this sounds familiar, than we are alike in some ways.
I get a lot of philosophical material out of stand-up comedy, and was recently reflecting on the doldrums of winter, when my memory turned to a quip from comedian Shane Mauss. A few years ago he recorded a special called My Big Break, chronicling his experience breaking both of his feet at the same time. In it, he offers sage wisdom ("If you can, break one foot first... see how ya like it... let that bad boy heal...then, if you're still REALLY into it, go ahead and break the other one"), a bit of humility ("People used to compare me to the 127 Hours guy... we just hurt ourselves doing dumb white people shit") but more importantly, he becomes very reflective.
At one point he talks about how, in his healing journey, he lived for 15 months in the basement of his parents house. And he was depressed. But then his perspective struck me as super reasonable. "Maybe we're supposed to be depressed". He discusses the human's negativity bias. Essentially humans give more weight to negative stimulus because the consequences in nature of ignoring potential danger is death or sickness, whereas the consequence of finding a reward is brief satisfaction or safety. So, if a gorilla squares off against a bigger gorilla and loses the fight, he doesn't just shake off and square up to get his ass kicked again. He goes off, thinks about what he did, maybe cuts his losses and takes a subservient role, maybe builds alliances so he can return to the next fight with more allies.
These feelings are useful tools to help us grow and learn.
NOTE: (I don't approve of the subtext of his point that anti-depressants are unnecessary. While I haven't personally turned to psychiatric solutions I honor and respect those that seek help when necessary.)
It struck me like a ton of bricks though... The point of overcoming anxiety/depression isn't defeating depression. It's honoring depression. Making space for it. Truly diagnosing it. Allowing yourself to reflect on your position. Winter is cold, it's isolating, there is less stimulus in our lives during this time. Personally, I am out of work, not as healthy as I want to be, always feeling like I could be a better communicator to my wife and family. Oh, and the world is on fire and we're in a plague. I honor that I'm a little on edge. It isn't subtle either. Sometimes people listen to my catalog of music and wonder if I'm ok....
I use this label as a way of expressing myself creatively, and songwriting to articulating my thoughts. whether they be anxieties/vulnerabilities, sharp criticisms on society, earnest love songs, or silly shit-talking, I tend to put most of my cards on the table emotionally. I consider that a strength, but I acknowledge when that makes others uncomfortable. I also acknowledge not everyone has access to these emotions, and others view my music with the same Problem Mindset I'm currently attempting to dismantle in my own thinking. They hear me sing a sad song and they wonder how they can help. If I'm really OK. The answer is, maybe? But the point is it doesn't matter. I write the song to honor the emotion.
Some of my songs are joyous, that's OK.
Some of my songs are sad/reflect painful experiences, that's OK.
Some of my songs aren't serious at all. That's OK.
If a song of mine that you hear makes you feel some type of way, it's supposed to. It's probably meant to. And it's exciting and deeply humbling to know I'm finally able to wield my gifts in such a powerful way. So thank you for listening, and for reading.
It won't all be sad songs, promise! But I won't ever misrepresent who I am, and I will always strive to honor my feelings (and hopefully yours too!). I owe that to you as a listener and reader, and all I ask in response is that you be kind to yourself and know that I'm here fighting all the same battles you are. It won't be winter forever (and GOD BLESS SNOWBLOWERS).
Thanks for reading!
Best, Wattson Native Stranger