The moon drifts silently high above the oceans of the world. As it does so it unknowingly uses its gravitational pull to affect the oceanic water level. As it then goes on its way, the pull is relaxed and the tide spreads itself back into its former position.. with a bit of splashing and waves thrown in for effect. On and on this process repeated itself through history before someone noticed the connection.
Meanwhile, I’d been having a pretty good month. In fact, this year has been much better (so far) than any of the past four years, which were extremely stressful to say the least. So there I was enjoying a pretty good month. Suddenly I could feel it coming. Just like that smell in the air that tells you rain is on the way.. I knew something was up. Pretty soon, bamm! Though nothing in particular had changed somehow I get hit with.. “the blues”. They come to everyone eventually. You’re moving right along with a spring in your step for months on end. Then without much notice or provocation the blues just show up on your doorstep like unwanted junk mail.
I’ve kept an eye on this phenomena for awhile trying to find some common denominator that might help me keep it at bay, never to return again. It wasn’t linked to any bad news or eating habits. It came irregardless of my sleep schedule. Comes along when things are fine no matter what the weather or season. I finally concluded that, much like the ebb and flow of the tide… it just comes. And then it goes.
People never did learn to live along the coast by finally finding a way to control the tide. Instead they just learned to expect it and live around it. For one thing, you don’t go swimming during a heavy riptide. I learned that lesson the hard way about six years ago. You don’t embark on a long journey by sail just as the winds of a hurricane come blowing in. And you think twice before you go for any three-hour cruises with two guys named Skipper and Gilligan. And so it is I’ve learned that when the clouds gather overhead and the sun seems to be dimming on my otherwise optimistic stride on things, it’s best to simply seek out some shelter and distraction until the sun comes out again.
Once I begin to hear myself taking a downhill spiral with thoughts like, “This sucks. Life sucks. Trees.. they suck. Those birds, birds really suck…” then I know it’s time to get out of my head and seek out some friends. When I’m feeling fine and one of my friends comes to me down with a case of the blues, perhaps I can’t always cheer him or her up. But I can listen and in the process point out that things really aren’t as bad as they sound when bouncing off the inside of your head. And then there are some people I can turn to who simply cheer me up just by their countenance, the way they look directly into my eyes or put their hand to my shoulder. Because unless there is some tragic news that can be pinpointed to a specific sorrow, it should be remembered that when the blues just drift in for no reason they can often times be caused to at least subside with even the gentlest outside influence.
So the thing for us to do is recognize our own patterns. To stop and say, “Wait a minute.. nothing has really changed. I was up and now I’m down. Time to get out of my head for awhile.” Meanwhile, our friends aren’t always available or understanding. That’s just life. Some people even attempt to hold their own psyche together by ‘only’ associating with “up/positive” people and will shun you until you throw yourself together. But true friends are with us to rejoice when we rejoice and mourn when we mourn. Or make us laugh when we’re just.. having a fit of the blues. But we can’t lean too hard on our friends expecting them to carry us through the storm, be it a drizzle or monsoon. We have to find ways to alleviate some of the downpour ourselves. This is where we find out just how well we know ourselves.
Everybody is different. We each distract ourselves in our own peculiar ways. There’s not even much of a rationale or line of reasoning behind why it works.. we just know what works for ourselves. Myself, I love crowds. Not sitting crowds like in theaters or stadiums, but crowds moving and walking about. It distracts me I guess because I’m so interested in people. So when I’m feeling down the worst thing I can do is lock myself up in my apartment trying to get my head together. Best thing I can do is just ‘get out’. The grocery store, window shopping, the mall, the park, the beach.. somewhere to just be amongst people. Occasionally I bump into someone I know and find myself busy with plans thrown together at the last minute. And driving.. I love to drive. My Mom said fourteen years ago, “Just wait, when you grow up you’ll be sick of driving.” I guess I must not be all that grown up yet because I still love to drive. (With the stereo up loud is even all the better.)
And before I know it, after a few hours or days, as mysteriously and effortlessly as the blues came.. they’re gone. Sun is shining and I find myself saying, “Wow.. life’s cool! This is cool. Those trees.. I never noticed how cool they are. And those birds, birds are really cool.” Why? I don’t know. I just know that no matter how ‘together’ some people seem to get themselves everyone eventually sees the tide of their emotions take on this rhythmic ebb and flow to some degree or another. Knowing who our friends are and what it is that distracts us from the gloom is our first step to doing what we can to weather it out.
As for me, it’s been a difficult and strange week. The storm clouds came and there was no stopping them much as I tried. I spoke with a good friend of mine over the phone this evening and she cheered me up even as she simultaneously fixed her dinner. (She’s just amazing that way.) Saturday morning I’m going to spend some extra time with my kids at our company picnic. By Saturday evening I’ll pack a few clothes, fill up the gas tank and be Mexico-bound. A bit of sun, some music, the beach, one big crowd and a few margaritas later I’ll be wondering.. “What was I so blue about?”. Hopefully what I won’t be wondering is, “Hey, who’s got my wallet?”
Henry Velez is a writer, traveler and vlogger currently living in the Philippines. He has written extensively on social issues, relationships and travel.