We just had a long weekend here in Canada. It was Victoria Day or, if you’re in Quebec, Journée nationale des patriotes (or Fête des Patriotes). I had to look that up. I didn’t know French Canadians celebrated a different holiday so, I just learnt something. Yay, knowledge!
It makes sense, I suppose. If you’re French, why would you celebrate a British monarch? Isn’t there a centuries-old rivalry between the two nations? I have some French blood in my family tree; A fact my British family still won’t acknowledge. Some quarrels run deep, I suppose.
Do you know how that blood got into our DNA? Of course not, we just met, and I’m bringing it up out of nowhere. It was a love affair in the 1300s that bore fruit, and apparently, it’s still a sensitive subject. I’ve asked about it a few times. My curiosity was met with a stern look, and a shake of the head. I was told that we don’t talk about that. What? Why? No one would give me an answer. What was I going to do? I had to dig out an old family tree to find the missing link.
It was buried under a pile of photo albums, gift bags, and used Christmas cards. There was a lot of dust so, I coughed and gave myself away. What are you looking at? Uh, our family tree, and wow, that’s so interesting. No, I wasn’t looking for trouble. BTW, who’s this person with the distinctly French name?
We don’t talk about that.
Oh, the drama! British versus French. A centuries-old feud. A forbidden romance and an addition to the bloodline that no one talks about. You’d think this was the start of some historical romance, but no, sorry. I just have the attention span of a hummingbird in a hurricane.
I started to write about a holiday and wondered if it was, in fact, a national affair or one of those regional things. A quick Google search brought us to this point, and exposed a family saga that will cause a collective gasp from the deep end of my genetic pool. It’s been 700 years! Let it go, and viva la France et Quebec.
Clearly, it’s an ADHD kinda day. My mind is bouncing from one thought to another. The hummingbirds are swarming, and the wind is whipping up. Hold on, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. The pilot is not in control of this hot air balloon.
Did I just admit that I was full of hot air? Well, I thought it was obvious.
Do you know what the problem is? Or, more accurately, what triggered this episode of hum-buggery. I’m a bit put out by this holiday. No, I don’t have a problem with Queen Victoria. I don’t know that much about her other than she’s one of the longest-reigning monarchs in British history. She wore a big crown, travelled around in a gold carriage, sat on a throne— what other royal stereotypes are there?
I should know this stuff, right? Canada is a part of the commonwealth and, it was probably on the citizenship test. Did I have to take the test? I was ten years old when we became Canadian citizens. I highly doubt they quizzed my brother and I on the monarchy and our constitutional relationship. That seems a bit much for a couple of kids, don’t you think?
Still, I call myself a history buff so, I should know more about the royals, but I can’t be bothered. Not today, and probably not tomorrow. Perhaps one day, when boredom consumes my better judgement, I’ll read about the doings and the screwings. But not today! I’m too tired, and it’s Queen Victoria’s fault.
Fine, I can’t blame her for my disenchantment and grumpiness. Yes, I admit it. I can hear the bite in my words. It’s not her fault, it’s mine. It’s my problem and calling it a problem is blowing it way out of proportion. It isn’t even about this particular holiday. It’s me, my brain is the problem.
That’s the root cause of 90% of my personal obstacles, struggles, and foibles. The mental game is a beast, and it struts around like it rules the land. It wears a gold crown and waves dramatically. On the surface, it looks like a figurehead with no real power. A symbol of a lost age that’s drowning in romanticism.
What harm could it do? Its reign of terror is a story found in the history books. It’s in the past so move on. Except, we can’t really move on from the past when it lives in our heads. That symbol that’s been romanticized? The dark story behind the crown? It’s still the beast that wakes us up at 6 AM on a statutory holiday.
It shouldn’t really matter what holiday you’re celebrating as long as you get a day off. A day to do what you want when you want to do it. Turn off that alarm, bury your entire body under those snuggly blankets, and lay in bed until your bladder threatens to burst.
Those are the days we look forward to with a burning passion. It doesn’t matter if you’re a royalist, separatist, or if you’re more like me and couldn’t give a royal quack. If someone wants to give us a statutory holiday, then happy birthday Queen Victoria.
But I just reread every word I’ve just written and I’m shaking my head. I’m complaining about something idiotic. I should just delete every word and try again tomorrow. Royalty? The mental beast? Complaining about waking up early on a statutory holiday? It’s petty and spoiled. It’s a tantrum of privilege.
Oh no, you woke up too early. Boo-f’ing-hoo. Should I wipe your tears with the gold tissues, or will the silver do the job? I’ll try to stop my eyes from rolling too far back into my skull, and I’ll sigh with fewer histrionics.
It feels good, though. Complaining, whining, or is it bitching? Please, pick your favourite and run with it because they all work equally as well. I woke up in a mood, and I don’t think it has anything to do with the clock on my phone or the light breaking through my curtains.
The first words that spilled out of my pursed lips and clenched jaw weren’t fit for a sensitive audience. No one here seems to mind, but I’m trying to behave myself and watch my F’s and S’s. But when I’m alone? My dog doesn’t care if I mutter curses under my breath. He just turns up the cute when I get out of bed like I’m possessed by a pirate’s spirit.
Look Ma, I’m helping.
There’s no reason for this mood. At least, there’s nothing I can pinpoint as being an obvious trigger. I had a lovely hike a few days ago, and I took my camera with me. I got some great photos and filmed some videos. (If you want to see them go to my Instagram: @thewanderingcripple). I’m teaching myself how to shoot and edit. It’s fun and new. My creative brain is tingling. I had a great time and felt proud of myself for a change.
I was feeling so good that I tackled my gross apartment and turned it into something I wouldn’t mind my mother seeing. Over the last year, it has become a— what’s the word— borderline toxic waste dump. The mindfuckery of the pandemic spilled out of my head and manifested in a physical mess. But I got a lot of that cleaned up, and it’s looking half decent.
And yes, I realize I slipped up and used language. I’m not perfect. I’m trying to do better, but it’s a process.
I went to bed feeling really good about myself, and maybe that’s why I woke up so early? I wanted to repeat that sensation. How could I sleep in? Except, when I opened my eyes, there was a heavyweight pressing down on my chest. The happiness I’d felt when I closed my eyes was gone. In its place was a sense of longing and laziness.
So, in an attempt to recapture the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment, I sat down to write this post. Look at me, getting things done days ahead of schedule. I’m so productive, it’s brilliant. Yay me! And now I’m complaining and whining about something so trivial. Oo, that weight on my chest is getting heavier. What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I let myself be happy? Why do I only find happiness, satisfaction, and pride in my accomplishments? And no, simply existing doesn’t count.
We have this, what’s next, culture that’s so ingrained in our identity. We finish one thing and ask what’s next. There’s no time to appreciate the effort or celebrate the accomplishment. We have to go, go, go all the time. What’s next? It isn’t even a question I ask myself anymore. It’s an expectation, and when I fall short of that?
Well, I had a few days of productivity, and I accomplished a lot of my goals. Then a holiday comes and, I could sleep in, but I’m looking for me next and feeling the weight of nothingness. In this moment, there isn’t a next. I got everything done so I wouldn’t have to worry, but here I am, complaining about it.
Can’t I just enjoy the break and the satisfaction of what I’ve done?
The experts in psychology, mental illness, and mental health say that it’s not what you do that’s important; It’s who are at your core that counts. It sounds lovely, airy, and kind of like a fairytale. I want to believe that it’s true, but I can’t make the story stick.
It’s like when I was a kid, in the hospital, having some medical procedure done. My mom would rub my head and read to me. We’d travel off into a magical land through a wardrobe or a secret garden. We’d have the most phenomenal adventures, and it would take my mind off everything that was happening to me.
But eventually, the story would end, and I would have to return to reality. It was the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. That’s how I feel when I listen to these experts talk about self-worth and internalized happiness or life satisfaction. It sounds brilliant, and I want to believe it’s true.
Then I wake up at 6 AM with the pressure of the world holding me down. All the good things that happened the day before and the sense of pride? They’re replaced by trivial complaints and a desperate attempt to recapture those feelings.But the harder I push, the further away they get.
Huh, do you think there might be a connection?
This might be a silly thought and way off base. I’m just following a breadcrumb trail of logic that might be flawed or misleading. However, is there a chance I’m trying too hard to be happy? These last few days have been amazing, and I didn’t force myself to feel good. It happened all on its own.
Well, not entirely on its own. It wasn’t an accident. I wasn’t stumbling around in the dark, and oops, that’s a lovely sensation. What did I do that was different? I set some small goals for myself that were attainable and, by my overbearing standards, rather feeble. Hiking, photography/videography, play around with editing and upload some stuff. If I had energy after that? Clean my bathroom and do dishes.
It was nothing major, but I got all of that done, and I had the energy to do some more. I felt accomplished even though, by my metric, I was falling short. Was I happier because I didn’t go looking for good vibes, and I didn’t ask what’s next?
I definitely complain a lot less when I let myself be happy.