I was home sick yesterday. The majority of my day was spent either in bed or on the couch; I watched a movie and two television shows. I can’t remember the last time I watched over three hours of concurrent television.
I awoke this morning to grey skies, damp cold, and wind outside my apartment that sounded like the world was ending. Part of me was determined to stay in bed, to shut out the world. After all, what is there to do on a day like today, other than to repeat the uselessness of the day before?
I got out of bed. I ate breakfast and took a shower. I was momentarily sidetracked by an absolutely horrid episode of “Beverly Hills 90210” (the early years) on Soapnet, but after fifteen minutes of humor, got my day back on track.
After months of excuses, I finally got a library card and took out four books. I took one of the books next door to Starbucks and read the first fifty pages with a venti white mocha in hand, stopping only for the occasional people watching experience. I ran errands. I went to five o’clock mass – the first time I’ve attended church since Easter.
I’ve felt very ungrounded lately, which is strange, since I’ve been making mostly decent decisions. Usually I recognize feeling ungrounded when I make a really off-kilter decision; but, as I said, lately I’ve been making mostly “ok” decisions for myself.
I took a book out of the library today that I have picked up numerous times in the bookstore, but have never bought – Saturday, by Ian McEwan. I’ve never read anything written by him, but always felt compelled to do so.
Saturday is a heavy read, mostly because McEwan does not write in a very plot driven fashion – he expends pages on descriptions in colorful language, which I often find myself skimming through in other books I read. It’s not a book which I had difficulty putting down, but I also would be remiss to say that it’s not worth reading. I get the feeling that when I finally finish it. I will view it more as an experience, than as a book that was necessarily “fun.”
There were two sections that resonated with me. One reads as follows:
“On a recent Sunday evening Theo came up with an aphorism: the bigger you think, the crappier it looks. Asked to explain he said, ‘When we go on about the big things, the political situation, global warming, world poverty, it all looks terrible, with nothing getting better, nothing to look forward to. But when I think small, closer in – you know, a girl I’ve just met, or this song we’re going to do with Chas, or snowboarding next month, then it looks great. So this is going to be my motto – think small.”
Another part of the book that I loved was not a section, but rather a quote – “Happiness seemed like a betrayal of principle, but happiness was unavoidable.”
At times, happiness feels shallow; it lacks the depth that sadness inevitably does. Your thoughts, when happy, seem shorter and less significant. However, when you’re unhappy, you tend to think more, think deeper. When you are happy, you tend to “think small,” yet when you’re unhappy, you see a bigger picture. More things to fear, more things to worry about, more things to generally feel unhappy about.
While I appreciate the value of deep thought, of evaluating my emotions, sometimes there is a benefit in “thinking small,” and not viewing it as a betrayal of principle.
I need to find the balance between being happy and feeling grounded, to find the place where happiness and feeling strong coincide. I need to be a better version of myself, and to feel comfortable in doing so. It’s easy to fall into a trap of over self-examination, to not want to get out of bed on a gray, cold, rainy day … but there is so much of the world outside that is worth experiencing, for better or for worse.