For months I’ve been struggling to define it, this general malaise that has encompassed me. I’ve hesitated to label it “depression” because it didn’t seem to fit. To me that’s always implied a sense of hopelessness that I certainly wasn’t experiencing. “Apathetic” seemed to come close, as it would certainly explain the boredom, but again I’m not sure I’m willing to say I simply “didn’t care”. To me there’s a stark difference between being “uninterested” and “uninspired”. Lately I would categorize myself as the latter of the two, which means I care, just not passionately. About everything it would seem. All of which has left me wondering to myself, “What the hell is going on? What am I feeling?” Then this morning a thought came to me: “What if I’m just not feeling anything?”
I have always been an emotional guy. It’s a funny phrase, because in today’s world it’s usually taken to mean someone who cries a lot and over-reacts to every little thing. That’s not me. While my emotions do jump around quite a bit, it’s more from things like “hyper-excited” to “quietly-contemplative” to “sarcastically-tired” to “bitterly-frustrated” and so on. I’m not sure I’d qualify as schizophrenic, but I’m certainly a different person at different times to different people. The guy I am when I’m at the theater would be almost unrecognizable to the people I work with. It’s just the nature of me.
But not lately. Lately I’ve been shuffling around at work and in life in a similar manor. At least until about a week ago when a couple of things happened that – I believe – may have kick-started my emotional motor.
For one, my mother dropped the whole “I’m having heart problems” thing on me. For the first time since I was a small child I was reminded of what fear really feels like. To say it caught me off-guard would be putting it mildly. And while it’s turned out fine (she’s doing well, for those I haven’t told), having a scare put in me was eye-opening.
Then there was last weekend, the second of two for the Acme New Works Festival, where for the first time in over six months I was able to get up onstage and perform for an audience (as opposed to just my mirror). The first weekend kind of kicked off the rust, but last weekend really brought it home. Those who witnessed my behavior post-show on Saturday can attest to the fact that I was anything but “depressed” or “apathetic” or ever “scared”. What I was was one of the many versions of the old me: the hyper-excited version. Randomly singing songs about nothing, bouncing around like a superball, talking too-loudly and cracking jokes without trying. It was fun, if only for an hour or two.
Finally, last Sunday I killed some time before the big game doing some record store browsing and picked up a new disc which I have since played ad-nauseum. And it was this morning, while listening to said disc for no less than the 12th time in five days, that I was struck by the fact that the *reason* I keep playing it is because it is triggering something in me. As it has throughout my life, music is inspiring me. Something about that magical combination of guitars, drums and vocals makes me feel more alive. Over the last several months I’ve foregone much of my CD collection and immersed myself in TV and sports-talk radio. While it made the football season more interesting, in the long run I think it’s what gave birth to my drastic downswing in emotion. Certainly life has fueled much of the way I’ve felt, but it can’t be coincidence that I’ve been starving that part of my soul that has always fed on the beauty of music.
So while I’m bummed that the Patriots (and therefore football) season is over, I’m glad for the chance to get back to being me. I look forward to experiencing some ups and downs and all that goes with it. Here’s hoping life plays along.