Every now and again, I get the blues. And, as the song says, “baby, that ain’t good.”
I don’t mean depression.
I know several people with true depression, duly diagnosed and appropriately treated. I don’t always understand depression. Sometimes (selfishly, I admit) its effects frustrate me. Still, I respect it (and them) enough to not diminish its reality by comparing it to what I feel.
Rather, in body, spirit and mind, sometimes I feel empty. Flat. Drained.
Strangely the feeling comes, like clockwork, every few months or so, reminding me of the pseudo-scientific concept of “biorhythms” from the late 1970s and 1980s.
That trend, for those too young to remember (and/or too smart to buy into) said that our bodies and spirits function in regular cycles.
The theory suggests that ones intellect, spirit and physical strength rises and falls every three weeks or so depending on the function. We enjoy peaks and endure troughs.
Most scientists agree that the concept is no more scientific or reliable for predicting emotional/physical/intellectual strength than simple chance.
I don’t know about the science of it all, but I know that what I feel is real.
When those changes come, I need some medicine. Not in the form of pills, but rather people. Important people. People who re-energize me.
I am in one of those “emotional troughs” even as I type this.
Luckily, my medicine is all around me, in a house in bucolic Galena, Illinois, rented with two other couples for a shared weekend away.
There’s Chuck, my best buddy for 30-some years, strumming away on his guitar. There’s his wife, Donna, my “sister in Liberal-hood,” laughing at a magazine story about people who tattoo their faces.
There’s Debbie in her Tweety Bird jammies snuggled under a blanket on the couch cuddling up to her husband, Jay. He’s reading a book about the history of baseball he found at the house.
They’re the youngest of the bunch. The metaphorical babies of our little band. In fact, this shared weekend getaway is partly to celebrate their sixth wedding anniversary. The rest of us have been married for more than 20 years. Yet they fit wonderfully, magically adding their own special spice to this friendship stew.
And of course, there’s my wife/best friend/life mate Kellie, whipping up the kind of gourmet breakfast most people can’t imagine or must pay extra for. A chef by trade and a Mom by nature, she does it effortlessly and joyfully and we all benefit.
Just in case you’re fearing some kind of literary “Kumbaya” moment here, let me be clear:
We don’t always agree. We don’t always laugh. Rough edges have sometimes been exposed as they will whenever people gather and spend time together.
We are adult humans, after all. We think differently. Believe different things. Appreciate different kinds of music and books and politics and films and activities.
Sometimes we hit the occasional bump as Chuck did – literally – this weekend. Except it wasn’t a bump, but a ditch. And he didn’t hit it, but backed blindly into it, blowing out a tire. We drove to Iowa to replace it while our spouses and friends stomped grapes at a winery.
Or we get lost – as I did, several times. In my defense, I can’t find my way out of my own driveway most days without a copilot and a map. Plus, we were so low in the Mississippi River valley that the GPS on our phones wasn’t working.
Or someone will cross a line with a comment that’s funnier as a memory than it was in the moment.
Still, the friendship abides. And it is a gift.
These people, their laughter (and sometimes tears), fidelity, thoughts, camaraderie, integrity, passion, joy and love recharge my soul.
Some may say that such considerations as these are small things in the big picture.
I say, laughter (and sometimes tears), fidelity, thoughts, camaraderie, integrity, passion, joy and love – especially love – are Big Things. All the time, in any picture.
I don’t know what Science would call this recurring emotional/spiritual/physical depletion.
But whatever name they’d slap on it, whatever category they’d file it under, I only know that this hole I occasionally find myself in is real and deep.
So deep that, sometimes, only the hands of friendship can lift me up and pull me out.