Keep your hat on your head/home is a long way away. -- "Good Advices," REM
On Fridays I share an office with a social worker -- a very bubbly, generous, earth-mama woman with a large extended family. (It's great working in the same office with social workers, because free therapy becomes a job perk.) She has been worried -- downright worried -- about me ever since Mom died because I don't have siblings or a wide social circle of support (church and present company notwithstanding). For the past month she's been mothering me in endearing ways; even shed some tears with me.
Yesterday afternoon, as she prepared to leave the office for the day, she turned and said, "Now, you know Sunday is going to be a hard day for you." I didn't need reminding. Actually, I've had a three-day headache that I think is probably partly in anticipation of Sunday. I told her my own coping strategy -- i.e., get quickly in and out of church, and then stay away, as much as I could, from all the Mother's Day joie de vivre.
She nodded. "My advice to you," she continued, "is to go to a cineplex somewhere Sunday afternoon and find an action/suspense movie -- something with absolutely no intellectual content or pathos or Big Issues in it; you want goons and bombs and cars flying over cliffs. Just sit in the dark and eat popcorn and watch that."
Actually, I think that's pretty good advice, although these days that would mean going to see MI-III, and Tom Cruise annoys me. But I'm sure I'll think of something.
Here, on the other hand, are things not to do if you're you're in a sad mood and anticipating being in a sadder one, based on my experience of this past week:
Do not watch films about doomed love. (I finally had the opportunity to rent Brokeback Mountain -- interestingly, in my little town the dozen copies at the local movie rental have been constantly rented out, and I had to sneak into the store midday on a weekday, while running errands, to get a copy.)
Do not listen to Billie Holliday recordings.
Do not knowingly put yourself in situations where you will be exposed to people who hate you and piss you off.
Do not exegete/hermeneute sad song lyrics, news stories, and so forth (see the Billy Collins poem below).
Do not eat fast food that, in the final analysis, tastes like crap and makes you feel like crap after you've eaten it, just because you don't think you have the time to make something better.
Try not to lose sleep, even if you live with a pet who has suddenly decided that 4:00 am is the new 6:00 am.
On the other other hand:
Do visit the local plant nurseries and greenhouses. Play mix-and-match with the flowers, like a kid with a box of crayons.
Do dig in the dirt.
Do accept social invitations, and do make overtures toward potential new friends, even if your sadness is due to a bereavement and it seems as if you're violating some sort of unofficial-but-assumed mourning period during which you mustn't think or talk about anything except your bereavement.
Do feel free to tell God, if you're having a bad day, "You know -- at this moment my life really sucks, and I hate it." I have it on good authority that God actually appreciates raw honesty, even if it's honesty that necessitates the use of words like "sucks."
And with that -- I am off to a plant nursery to help de-suckify my weekend.