Monday, August 07, 2006

Conquering the Blues.

I decided, after my whiny post this past week about blood tests and feeling depressed about it all, that I would get myself together and start over. That is exactly what I did. As I wrote about a couple of days ago, I just put on the shoes and the running gear and hit the streets. After that, I worked at the computer and FINISHED something (Alex's concert DVD), and put it in the mail.

On Saturday, Michael and I decided to take in a movie and just talk. Like myself, he struggles with the Virus We All Love To Hate. I told him, "I just got tired of the struggle. It's like every single day, no matter what, I have to deal with this whole blood sugar/fat thing, and I run and I eat well and I try really hard. So, when the test results were not great -- my triglycerides were at 224 -- it was like coming fourth at a race where you thought you had crossed the finish line first."

We commiserated about it and then went to see "The Night Listener" with Robin Williams as a gay radio commentator who thinks he's being duped by a woman who might be posing as a 14 year old dying of AIDS. (All based on a true story). We found the movie a bit inconsistent -- not terrible; not great. What we did like was that there was no attention drawn to the sexuality of the characters. They were just gay. His failing relationship with his partner was not exploitative nor special. It just was.

You know, like real life. We all just are.

I also had my weekly chat with my friend, Ernie, who gives me great advice about dealing with personal stuff. (I read this past week that people who Internet a lot seem to have fewer personal real friends -- apart from spouses -- out in the real world; so I've been redoubling my efforts to make sure Ernie and Michael and I get face time, even if it's just for a few moments for a hug and kiss and breakfast or something.)

I also ran on Saturday. I ran on Sunday. Longer than usual just to make sure I was going to keep up with the discipline no matter what. It takes effort, you know. Any kind of real self-help "gonna get my act together and push on and get reborn again" takes effort. You have to make yourself get up. Make yourself eat right. Make yourself put on your running shoes. Make yourself finish that project. Even if you don't want to. Even if you're too depressed about it. Even if it's boring. Even if. Even if. Even if.

It won't get done for you. And you can't just do it for a day or two. It's like a marathon runner. Every day is a new day to slog up out of the depths of your inertia and just make yourself do it. No excuses. No putting it off. No waiting for some magic to happen. No waiting for someone to motivate you. Even during the days when you hate it. Even when you can't stand the thought of it. Even when you don't know why. Even when it feels useless. Even if you hate yourself. Even if you didn't do it yesterday.

You make yourself get up. You make yourself do it.

When I give talks at schools, I often talk about how I willed myself back to life back when I was so sick. How I had to make the decision that I would live. Every single morning I would make that decision. "Today I'm going to live." At this point in the talk, I would look around the room at all the young faces and say, "This is true about all of you, too, whether you're sick or not. Whether you're depressed or not. You have to decide that today you will live. Because I know a lot of walking dead people. And you do, too."

I think in a world where so much is done for us this is especially true. The TV entertains us. The radio plays music for us. The computer gives us things to read. It's so easy to fill our time with useless, pointless activity -- all of which seems to be accomplishing something. All of which has the appearance of activity. But deep down we know we not doing anything. Deep down we know we're just avoiding the thing we must do the most.

So, yes, it's an effort of willpower. Yes, no one can do it for us. Yes, we have to make that decision and then make that decision and then make that decision. Over and over again. Yes, it's relentless. Yes, even when you'd rather be eating ice cream or getting stoned or having sex or watching endless amounts of TV or feigning activity while producing nothing. Yes, even if you hate yourself for doing it. Even if you think you're a million miles behind and you can't catch up.

Start over. Make it happen. Do what you need to do. Do something little. Do it every day. Start over. Do it again. Use your brain. Because if you don't, then a year will pass by. And another year will pass by. And another. And you'll hate yourself even more for that lost time. And your lethargy will continue. I know this. I've been there. I'm the very worst.

So, now I'm going to go put on my running shoes and I'm going to hit the streets again. I'd rather be doing ANYTHING but that, but I'm going to make myself make it happen.

It's the only answer. But the greatest thing about this is that there is an answer. It is something I can do. It may be a small thing, but I will do it.

See ya later!
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Hal Prince talks about Zero Mostel