Ah, fresh air and sunshine. Is there anything better? The birds are chirping loudly in the trees. The smell of barbecues being lit for the first time in many months. A fresh breeze rustles the leaves. Walking a well-worn bath with your dog leading the way.
As the song says, these are a few of my favourite things. What about bug bites, sunburns, and random animal attacks happen? Yeah, thanks, brain. That was helpful, but I’m trying to be happy right now because I deserve it so, shush.
What, you don’t have conversations with your body parts? Huh, I thought everyone did that.
Oh, I know! Let’s play a game, yeah? Can you guess which organ is talking at any given moment? Is it my head, or my heart? Oo, yes, this should be fun. Let’s do this.
I’ve been under the weather and stuck inside for several days too long. I’m feeling— how can I say this— mentally overripe. I haven’t turned sour or lumpy, not entirely, but it could happen at any second. It would go something like, I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m… Whoops, there you go, tumbling down a hill head over arse. Wee, ouch, that’s going to leave a bruise.
Thankfully, I’m feeling significantly better. The pain is subsiding, and the nausea has become mildly bothersome. I’m not contagious! I had a self-contained infection that laid me flat on my back. Mm, good times.
But here I am, sitting up and feeling a little more energized. My deck door is open, and the early morning sun is streaming through. A crow just yelled, and another one answered. In the distance, I can hear a few engines come to life as people head out on their day.
I’ll join them soon enough, but first, I’m going to sip my tea and list my favourite things. I’ll make a few plans for tomorrow or the next day. A hike would be lovely, and the weather looks like it will hold out. I could go out into the world and explore the great what-have-yous.
Cheers to feeling better and leaving my home! What a glorious feeling, I’m healthy-ish again. Or, I put a little too much sugar in my tea, and it’s making me delusional.
Yeah, that’s more like it because who am I kidding? Despite my wanderlust, silly daydreams, and delusions of epic adventures; none of it will happen. I’ll stay here forever and watch a videos about the world’s greatest hikes. Hey, there’s a travel vlog I haven’t seen yet. Mm, this could become problematic.
Why go outside and experience life? Nah, I can watch someone else do it. All the fun, none of the risk. It’s brilliant! I have a very vivid imagination so, I can join them in my mind. Yep, there I am, walking along a beach in Bali. Now I’m picking up a conch shell and listening to the ocean.
Ah, this is wonderful and safe, and an imaginary crab just bit my ear. Typical! This is why I don’t leave my house. This is why I have a lot of stupid dreams and few memories. I’ve been bitten by metaphorical crabs way too often. No, the videos, daydreams, and imaginary trips to exotic locations are just as good.
Are you shaking your head? Was that a scoff? Are you wondering if my silly delusions will be good enough on my death bed? Too morbid? Yeah, alright, that’s fair.
You know, you could leave your home and experience these things for yourself. That’s a thing people do. Uh, sorry, what now? Was that a real thing you just said? I’m so confused. Was it in English?
Listen, I just downloaded Duolingo, and I’ve done one lesson. I can tell you how to say boy, girl, and cat in french, but that’s it. Can we stick to English until I master the basics?
Go out and see things? Ha! Okay, buckaroo, don’t get carried away. Slow it down, reel it in, and could you annunciate a bit more. All I heard was a bunch of mumbled gobbledygook.
Go outside. Ha! Double ha. Triple ha. Yes, that’s right, I ha’d at you in surround sound. It’s 4K ha’ing.
Actually, it’s not that much of a stretch, and I’m being a bit dramatic, but with good reason. I’m still a tad bit under the weather. It’s nothing serious, and I’m starting to feel better. I had a rough tussle with a stomach bug, but it’s almost over. I’m a bit tired and a little worn out, but I’m ready to rejoin the land of the living soon.
Except, the thought of going for a hike is a bit overwhelming, and I’m not physically fit yet. Also, after being out of human circulation for so long, the idea of being a person is a bit terrifying. Am I ready to rejoin society? Step out of my front door? Be a real girl? No, I’m not making excuse. I’m telling you how I feel.
Go outside? That’s just bonkers.
I just shivered, and it wasn’t the gust of wind that rattled the trees. Well, it was a contributing factor. It’s chilly in Canada, in May, at seven AM. What happened to that warm front? It went too far north, damn it.
See, I can’t possibly leave my home. I’ll freeze to death or worse, get frostbite and lose a couple of toes. I need my toes. I like my toes. Is it telling that I’m more concerned that I could lose an appendage than my life? Head meet heart. Can you work together. No, on second thought, we have more pressing concerns.
Like leaving my home, going outside, and being a person for the first time in a couple of weeks? Yes, like that. It’s worrisome, and it’s causing a bit of anxiety. I’m not in a full-blown panic, but if I think about too long? I have agoraphobic tendencies so, this could get squishy. I’ve sought help to overcome it, and usually, I can fight back quite effectively.
But today? It’s kicking off a bit because I’m out of practice. When I look at my front door, my stomach sinks, and I feel the panic rise from my toes. It worms its way up my legs and through my digestive system. I try to swallow it back down, but it’s like an octopus. It has dozens of tentacles and hundreds of suction cups. It holds on and keeps crawling.
And now there’s a list of possible catastrophes running through my head. These things can only happen outside. If I stay where I am, I’ll be safe. That sounds logical. Oh dear, now they’re rearranging themselves into alphabetical order and likelihood of occurrence: Car crashes, muggings, rogue koala attacks.
Granted, the last one seems highly unlikely, but it’s not impossible. People keep all kinds of exotic animals as pets. For example, snakes, lizards, and zebras. A koala? That can happen. I’m not saying it’s right. It’s actually kind of awful. Animal cruelty aside— shame on you— what if one of those animals gets fed up and makes a break for it?
I saw that Madagascar movie after one of my surgeries. I was heavily medicated, and it took me way too long to realize it wasn’t a nature documentary. I don’t know what drugs they had me on, but damn. Needless to say, it was cute but a bit of a letdown. I was really rooting for Mort and then utter disappointment.
Speaking of disappointments, what if I’ve been stuck inside so long that I’ve romanticized the outside world? Sure, it’s full of scary things that are capable of inflicting horrific damage. But there are also brilliant places, beautiful scenery, and incredible people.
I want to go to those places, meet those people, and do you see my problem?
There’s a chance that I’ve built the outside world up too high. I’m envisioning a land of plenty and splendour. There are glorious sunsets, sprawling forests, endless beaches, and so many puppies to snuggle. Heaven, I’m in heaven. I can’t remember the rest of the words to the song. If I keep singing the tune, then it doesn’t matter.
Oh no, I double-checked that list of potential calamities. How has it grown that long in such a short amount of time? I looked away for two minutes, sung a silly song, and cheered on a cartoon lemur. That’s it, and now the list has multiplied by a factor of 22.223. How’s that possible? Stop it! Stop growing longer. What are you doing?
A few days ago, I was reminiscing about my childhood adventures and dreamily wishing I could do it again. Today, I feel good enough to go outside and explore, but I’m hesitant. More than that, I’m actually fearful and coming up with reasons why I should stay inside.
Wait, you were serious about going outside and exploring the world? I thought we were talking hypotheticals. You’re serious? Oh no, that can’t happen. I know I said I had a silly little dream to travel the world but, I’m looking over this list and seriously questioning my sanity.
It’s always fun when your mental illnesses question your sanity, isn’t it?
When I’ve written these words, I’ll put on some real clothes and lace up my shoes. I’ll put the leash on my dog, and we will go for a walk. The anxiety will be there, and I’ll have a moment of hesitation by the door. The list of potential calamities will start their own streaming services.
All of that will happen because I still struggle to maintain my mental health. It is frustrating to face an old foe once again. Especially when it’s something I thought I’d overcome. Now it’s back, making a brief appearance so, what do I do?
It’s easy to feel defeated, and now my head and heart are bickering. My heart wants to go outside and see the last cherry blossoms before they fall. It wants to feel the spring breeze knot up my hair. My heart wants to beat faster when I walk up a hill and feel a twig snap under my boots. It wants to chase after those silly dreams just to see what happens when I catch up.
My head has a list of potential catastrophes. It sends shockwaves of anxiety through my body. It has fits of despair and tells awful lies about who I am or who I’ll always be. It makes fun of my silly dreams and dismisses the pleasure of a lazy walk through the trees.
So, who do I listen to? Head or heart? Is it one or the other?
It’s probably better to unify these warring factions. The whole mind-body mantra is accurate but not all that helpful. When you can’t trust your mind to steer you in the right direction, who do you listen to? If I listen to my mind, I’d never leave my home or pursue anything that gives me joy. I’d rationalize everything until nothing had meaning. What would I have left? What kind of life would that be? Not a very happy one, that’s for sure.
I suppose, for me, trusting my heart is where I find balance. It’s where I discover new passions, and it moves me through these hyper-rational moments. It claps back at the negatives with a whole lot of positives. Things I’d miss out on if logic out ruled emotion.
Right now, my heart is telling me it’s time to go outside and get some fresh air. It will clear my mind and heal my body. I’ll feel so much better, and my dog will stop being so judgemental. So, here I go, listening to my heart and letting it guide me forward.
Oh, how’d you do on our little game? Seriously? Well done, you.