I know you've got a lot on your plate at the moment, especially given everything that's been going on in the world. I don't expect you to give a response to my message, it's good enough to know that you're listening and you'll take my thoughts as seriously as ever. I would really appreciate it if you might be able to find the time to get back to me though, given everything that's happened. I have to say it feels quite liberating to know that you'll listen to my worries with a trusted impartiality and you won't judge me in any way. You've always been a good friend and as an habitual observer of my own moods I'll never run out of problems to throw your way.
So here it is once more, a tale of woe if ever there was one, but nonetheless important (if not unique) to myself. I remember you saying that our problems are valid and authentic to each of us and that it's better not to compare oneself with others, easier said than done, but true enough.
I did what you told me to do yesterday, but I couldn't look at what's left of my garden for very long. I managed to sit still for nearly half an hour, just looking through the window at the tufts of grass that seem to be creeping inexorably towards the fence and the hollow stems of last years weeds that still tilt at odd angles all over the place. Someone's chucked a pile of old newspapers over the gate and there's a mangled-up shopping trolley full of wet cardboard that wasn't there last week. It's a sight for sore eyes, it really is, especially as I'd kept it all looking so nice when I moved in.
But I pretended the view was a stage and everything on it was part of a performance, just like you said. There's a crack in the window, it runs from the bottom corner to the middle of the frame at the top. I didn't tell you about that. It doesn't help, I keep thinking the glass is about to fall out and I'll be left with a huge hole where the wind and rain will come in. I know it's unlikely but that's the way my mind's working at the moment.
The streets have been virtually empty of people for ages now as you're well aware. The pandemic seems to have scared the living hell out of us all. As you know, it's never been easy for me to get out and about at the best of times. I can move around my apartment easily enough now but my wheelchair limits me in so many ways I would never had imagined. It's okay, I'm used to cooking for myself, washing, getting in and out of bed, that sort of stuff. But without my neighbour helping me with the stairs I'm sort of stuck here.
I really don't know if it's all connected but my mood has taken a much bigger hit recently. I wake up feeling quite sad, which isn't a good way to begin the day. Sometimes I don't even bother to get out of bed at all, I just lie there and stare at the ceiling. I can't even force myself to put the television on because I'm afraid of the news bulletins that crop up every now and again. I struggle to deal with the endless loop of depressing information that the networks seem to think we all need to absorb. It's like being sucked into a black hole of misery and despair. I know, you told me to stop using words like those but sometimes it feels good to write them down so I can see them. It makes me feel like I've purged them from my system for a bit, until they come creeping back into my mind like (here we go again) a dark cloud of despair.
So it's all fairly bleak for me at the moment. I cried yesterday for no reason, and then I decided to pretend to myself that I was upset because I had been thinking about all those poor people that had contracted this awful virus and were suffering more than me. But it wasn't that, I guess I cried because I was just, well just miserable. Is that wrong? I thought it was at the time. Feeling stupidly upset because of my own selfish misfortune. Feeling ridiculously unhappy because the milk in the fridge had gone off and the light bulb in the hallway had blown. How ridiculous is that! Stupid, stupid, stupid! There are people much worse off than me, and they cope, they survive, they manage, muddle through, handle things, hack it. So why not me?
I really did try to imagine the big window in my living room as a theatre curtain, and then to pretend everything I saw outside was a play of some description, I honestly did. You said it would take me out of myself and make me use my imagination, and you said it would divert my attention away from my thoughts, stop me dwelling on stuff. Do you know I actually tried it without doubting it would work? I know, first time for everything. First time I've ever listened to your advice properly anyway. There, that surprised you didn't it? But the mess in my garden made me more depressed so I won't be trying that again.
Hello again Sam.
Thank you for your reply. You were right, the garden's so bad there's absolutely zero chance that looking at it will help my mood. And that damn crack in the glass has really got into my head. I can't seem to stop looking at it and wondering when the glass is going to shatter and spray me with a hundred pointed shards. I imagine them slashing my skin to shreds and piercing my eyeballs so I can add blindness to all my other issues. That really would finish me off for good wouldn't it? 'Destructive, Injurious thinking'. That's what you called it. I know I'm doing it but it just seems to creep in to my mind like poison fog. HA! POISON FOG! You see now I've learned how to describe what's happening to me with ingenious creativity. Is there no end to my self-destructive talent?
But, as you suggested, I tried to look beyond my garden into the park on the other side of the street, and guess what? It was rather a pleasant experience I must say. At least the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. Oh, and there's a Mountain Ash covered with the most glorious orange berries, it actually looks like it's on fire. But the crack in the glass seems to be getting thicker now. So all is definitely not well and good.
Your last message was most helpful. The window does broaden my outlook somewhat. I looked beyond my fence and stared at the Ash tree for ages, until something else caught my eye. Who'd have thought it? There's a climbing Rose that's snaking its way up the side of stone wall and guess what? It's still flowering! There are the most delicious pink blooms all along its thorny branches, I bet they smell gorgeous. Too bad I can't get out and give them a sniff. Maybe if my neighbour comes home one day she'll take me out and we can go and take a closer look. Yes, that's definitely something to look forward to. I'll make a mental note. She loves Roses and I know she'll go wild over the scent.
Someone's chucked an old carpet over my fence and it's broken my rotary clothes line. Oh, and the crack's now so deep there's probably no chance of the window staying intact through the night. I've convinced myself that there's going to be a storm tonight and it'll be so cold in here I'll freeze to death. I know I'm going to have another sleepless night. I just know it.
Before I say anything else I'm going to thank you for your most recent piece of advice. I've put a label on each of my emotions, just like you said. Where do I start? I know, I'll tell you about some of the things I've seen through the window and then leave you to ponder.
The Mountain Ash is still resplendent with its multitudinous berries. It made me feel happy to keep looking at it, and I labelled that 'Blissful'. Is that okay? And the climbing Rose made me feel the same, but more so because it reminded me that my neighbour might be coming home soon. So I'll label that one 'Cheerful'. During the two hours I spent looking out of the window this morning I spotted a single Autumn Crocus poking its little head through the soil by the park gate. At first I thought it was a piece of litter that had blown under the fence so I used my binoculars to try to see if there were any leaves attached to it, and there were. So that's good as well isn't it? Funny really, that smallest of things made me happier than ever. I'll label that one 'Jubilant'. Or is that a bit of a stretch? No, I don't think it is. I wonder what my neighbour will think when she sees that lovely Crocus flower? I'm quite looking forwards to telling her about it. Should I label that feeling as well? Let me know your thoughts.
The crack in the window seems to have got longer, although I don't think it's any deeper, which is a blessing I suppose.
'Saddened' but 'Hopeful'.
I appreciate the comment you made about me labelling my emotions, but however hard I tried I just couldn't seem to put a positive spin on it all. After all, how do you replace the word 'Saddened' with anything else? I searched high and low in my repertoire for another word that would adequately reflect that particular mood but all I could come up with were words such as 'Distraught' or 'Troubled', which were just variations on the theme. And then I saw what you were getting at, and it all clicked into place. So I substituted 'Saddened' with 'Peeved', and then reframed it slightly to 'Moderately Peeved'.
I spent some more time in the morning looking through the window and I have to say how 'Moderately Peeved' I was that the crack appeared to be longer now, but strangely enough no deeper! And then, (you'll like this) because there was so much to see in the park I forgot about it all together!
As well as the Ash, Rose and Autumn Crocus there are now three rows of lovely winter flowering Pansies that have appeared. I think somebody from the Parks Department must have planted them when I wasn't looking. The whole scene's looking a picture now I can tell you. Someone's even painted the litter bin and trimmed the grass edges.
Unfortunately it started to rain and the wind got up so I pulled the blinds in case the glass blew in.
'Cheerful', 'Contented' and (you'll like this one) 'Fortunate'.
Bad day. The mist rolled in and I couldn't see anything out of the window.
'Bored', 'Lonely', but still... 'Expectant'. (I'm struggling to choose positive words all of the time so you'll just have to go with it).
Because of yesterdays mist my mood has taken another turn for the worse I'm afraid. I spent the whole day with the blinds down in case the mist crept in through the GIANT crack and suffocated me.
I did, however, wake up early on purpose to see if things had improved with the weather and I watched the sun rise over the park. It was the most glorious sight to behold, the autumn leaves picked up the golden rays and made everything look as if it was bathed in a fountain of liquid gold. (Blimey, I never used to write like this!) The berries on the Ash Tree were like yellow nuggets and the Pansy flowers were like little smiling faces. (I think I've overdone it now.)
'Relieved', 'Uplifted', 'Overstated', (I know, it's not really an emotion but what the hell.)
My Good Friend Sam.
I stayed up late just so I could watch the sun set. It was truly wonderful, everything seemed to take on a delicate reddish tinge. Just before dusk a little low fog crept in and made it look like there was blanket of cotton wool over the ground. The Pansies were covered but the Crocus heads pocked valiantly through the mist and seemed to smile heroically at me. (I've been reading some Daphne Du Maurier). I spotted a flash of brilliant red by the bench when the air had eventually cleared and upon further inspection (binoculars again), it turned out to be a wild Poppy throwing out a final flower through the 'burnt leaves of a spent summer'.
I have to admit I felt sad when it got dark though. Then I started to worry about never being able to leave this place and dying a lonely death, and being found in a year's time all rotted away and smelly, and my neighbour being upset, and the crack in the window spreading across the whole building. Actually, everything fell in on me all at once and I ended up lying on the floor in tears because I couldn't lever myself into bed. Two steps forward, one back, as they say. But, and it's a big 'but', I woke up in the morning really looking forward to seeing what else had happened in the park.
'Imaginative', 'Morose', but then (surprisingly) 'Positive'.
I decided to lie in my bed for most of the day because my mind was playing tricks again. I think it might have been something to do with dreaming about being stuck forever in the dark. It was truly awful, I only remember bits of it but the general theme was quite bleak. Although I was able to walk again I had nowhere to go because my room had no door and there was no way to get out. Worse still there was no window. I was miserable all afternoon even though I knew it was just my stupid imagination running away with itself again. If I had to label my thoughts at that moment I'd have used the words 'Isolated', 'Despondent', and 'Inconsolable'.
For some reason though my mood appeared to have lifted somewhat as the day wore on. The sun shone through the window and, as I was sitting in my wheelchair reading, a tiny sliver of light brightened the open page. I took it as a sign to remove myself from my wretchedness and take a look out of the window. Which I did. (I'll be honest with you Sam, looking at it now, I think the crack in the glass is exactly the same size and shape it was a few days ago. Maybe I've been thinking too much about it. I guess sometimes we all feel more broken than we actually are).
I watched an elderly couple walk slowly through the park and then sit together on the bench. They didn't say anything to each other, they just held hands. It was the loveliest thing I've ever seen. Needless to say I cried, but this time it was because I felt completely at peace with the world.
I want to thank you Sam, not just for listening but for nudging me along in the right direction. You truly are a good friend and I hope we can meet again soon.
I have to go now because somebody's knocking on the door, I hope it's who I think it is.