When I was a freshman in high school the former Marlboro Man came to give an assembly on not smoking. A few things stick out in my mind about that day. First the guy had the voice of Harvey Fierstein, skin like a leather couch, and a gut like Peter from Family Guy. As such I have never been a smoker. Second I was carrying my brand new, Lands End messenger bag – a significant trend-setting switch from the backpack – and Dan Meola noticed. But more – hmm – equally importantly, Marlboro said something that stuck with me since that glorious hour away from Lab Bio.
He said, “You know all too often as kids they tell us, ‘Don’t just sit there – do something!’ But sometimes it’s better to stop, take a deep breath, and do the exact opposite. Sometimes when the going gets really rough the best policy is, ‘Don’t just do something – sit there!’”
What this had to do with smoking – or not smoking – I don’t know. What is has to do with my life – in general and specifically today – is actually rather poignant. Shocking from a man who exclusively wore plaid.
I’m in what mothers and gay men call “a funk.” Some work stuff has been frustrating. Some financial realities have been a downer. People are dropping into their mid-twenties like flies. It’s nothing a little Busch Lite and Kelly Clarkson couldn’t handle during our college years – but these are not our college years. Add that to the list above.
I tend to approach bad moods like Meg Ryan’s character in any of the following films: When Harry Met Sally, French Kiss, You’ve Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle.
1. Attempt to uncover the root of the problem by engaging in inner monologue of all assessed possibilities, out-loud.
2. Share narrowed-down list of probable roots of problem with trusted girlfriends and men who wouldn’t date me anyway.
3. Settle on most likely (read: solvable) mood source and develop a diversified approach to making it go away/ignoring it.
4. Assign the appropriate cliché to the now complete life moment and move on. Options include: this too shall pass, you win some you lose some, it’s really just a numbers game, or, when applicable, no one expects the Spanish Inquisition.
I’m only half – fine – ¼ kidding. I don’t sit well in bad moods. And while you’re thinking – where’s the problem in that? – the problem is that sometimes a bad mood can be a good indicator. If you let it stick around awhile sometimes it invites along some other more telling emotions to the pity party. They make new friends, catch up with old ones, hook up if the mood’s right, and argue about who really deserves credit for your last break up. It can be a mess, sure, but sometimes you’ve got to let them all show up so you can really get a look at group – see who’s really in charge. Then you can decide who to kick out first.
So I’m going to take Marlboro’s advice and sit here for awhile. Read a book. Grab a pizza with a friend. Write a blog about my inner most emotions. Do some “do nothing” stuff until I see what shows up. I figure chances are this too shall pass because you really do win some and lose some in this crazy numbers game. Regarding the Spanish Inquisition. Frankly I’ve never understood that saying.
*Metaphor inspired by the Children’s Television Workshop cartoon special “When Sad Came Out to Play” (1987)