Imagine you’re walking down the street.
No wait. Imagine you’re dragging your tired, covid fogged ass down the street, with a little is-this-what-it’s-like-getting-older-hip-pain, headed where you think you need to go and suddenly God jumps out of the bushes and punches you in the tit.
And you’re like, wtf? seriously? But you take it as some redirection, wake up a bit and course correct. And then WHAM. tit punch. Stumble. Shake it off. WHAM. Tit punch.
So you conclude two things. Divine interventions are hard on the tatas. And, there’s an opportunity here. Clearly, it’s time for some deep inner work. You groan. Again. You steel yourself.
You pull out your journal, nosh some edibles, and engage in a cringe-worthy level of self-scrutiny. You think about those people who’ve told you you think too much. Just when you think you’ve got ground under your feet and it’s time to get walking. WHAM WHAM WHAM.
So You’re like, you know what, I’m in pain, Imma just lay down right here, have a big old nap. When you wake up and try to get up…you guessed it! Tit punch!
And so you’re like, cool cool. Hey, God, think you could give me a sign if you want me to stay still or get up? And everyone you tell that you just need to winter and stop and go inside is like ‘yes! Do that thing! I wish I could do that thing! But doing that thing, aka doing nothing is way too hard! Go!’
You conclude that’s the message and you do the very hard work of not doing all the things you used to do to make yourself feel competent and valuable. You abandon any pressure to live your best life. Your identity starts screaming but you find a way to drown out the noise.
You watch the Walking Dead for 20 hours a week through the darkest days of winter. Late night, between clients, with your morning coffee. Even your teenager is like ‘that’s too much and you’re not modeling healthy behaviour’. But you double down! You’re like it’s my winter and I’ve been taking care of so many people and so much shit for so long so I’m going to watch Rick Grimes take care of as many zombies as I want to!
And it somehow makes you feel better about the Pandemonium, divisive culture wars, global ecological disasters, threats of economic collapse, and the existential reckoning as you question if anything means what you thought it meant and if what you’ve given your lifeforce to matters at all. At least we’re not killing zombies, even if sometimes you wonder if we are the zombies.
You stand in your garden a lot, looking around thinking about what you could do and plant and grow, without actually doing anything at all besides standing and looking around.
Was that last sentence literal or metaphorical? Yes.
You go to multiple stores looking for ceramic pots for your herbs. A sales guy in the garden center of Home Depot says “yeah, we couldn’t get any this year. Supply chain stuff. I’m not totally sure what’s going on.”
So you say, ‘the apocalypse?”
And you stand silently looking at each other. He nods.
“Yeah. I think so.”
You stand there in silence, amongst the patio furniture and plastic planter pots, until it gets weird.
The first rule of the apocalypse is that you don’t talk about the apocalypse.
You watch the news. It gives you indigestion. You decide you shouldn’t watch the news. Or eat so much cheese.
You make mental lists of everything you love. You cuddle your chickens and your dogs and you stare at your children’s beautiful faces. Even when they yell at you to stop staring like a weirdo.
You cry a lot.
You turn the poop pile of your inner world. Compost, you think. Glorious, life-giving things grow out of the compost. You do your work, steadily and lovingly. God starts saying you’re getting it, also…surprise! tit punch!
And you remind yourself and all the people around you, who are also taking some sweet punches to their tender bits, that change includes things falling apart. Or sloughing away. Or dying away.
You let your imagination call in emergent possibilities and you know they can’t be cleanly born. You welcome disintegration and surrender and heartbreak.
Your best friend says that one of the things she appreciates about you is even back in high school you’d analyze the crap out of things and now look, you do it for your job!
And you think that maybe you do think too much. And you wonder if you take everything too seriously and it dawns on you that there’s a joke somewhere in all of this and you should probably just make art and write jokes.
So you start writing a solo show, you call it, Are you there God? it’s me, middle age.
You take stand-up comedy lessons and remember that you’re made of joy and while you certainly know how to dance in the dark, you don’t need to live there. You won’t save the world by being broken or morose. You won’t save the world at all. But you can certainly make it a lovelier, more connected, and more joyful place to hang out.
You keep prioritizing being creative. And everything feels better. Even the things that are awful and suck because you can try writing a joke about that. Or a word painting imagination journey to share with people on your mailing list. You can reach out and connect with folks who’ve said ‘sure! Send me emails! Tell me about stuff and things’. And you feel so much gratitude that they’re reading your words. You tell them thank you. Thank you.
And you feel a little bit better about yourself. And the state of the world. You go to a party and people ask you how you are. You say great. And you mean it.