This morning the clock said 3:51am. My lungs felt refreshed. Then a memory from last night bubbled up. You know how they do.
Rita and I discovered mold in our garden. It was yellow and green and it shared its spores with my lungs before we recognized or best option: retreat inside to formulate our battle plan in response to the attack of the multicolored mold.
Google was waiting. All the postings were about White mold or Black mold, or even yellow dog-vomit mold. Nothing fit our mold. I read with great and trepidiacal interest of a U.K. man who died from inhaling compost mold; my lungs were burning. Not good.
But sleep came.
Then 3:51am came.
And then the thoughts came.
At 3:52am it seemed odd that I could hear my pulse in my ear on the pillow. It seemed fast. That U.K. man had a rapid pulse. I could either choose to lift my head and take my pulse and while waiting for the digital clock to move to the next minute, or I could look at my fit bit. But my fit bit is charging. But I decide, anyway, to roll over and grab it and attach it to my wrist and look at the pulse rate. It flashes, 113. Not good. I check again, 112. Not good. Not normal. I compulsively check again, 111. The fit bit is probably still adjusting, now it’s 109. Stop checking, the voice in my head says. Let it be. Let it settle. Thirty seconds later, it’s 55. I am normal again.
At 3:54am, I find another troubling thought. Today is July 14, 2017. My Theories text revision is due in 31 days. I have five more chapters to revise. That’s six days per chapter. Plus references. Plus table of contents and preface and . . . . Not good. I’m a bad author.
At 4:12am, I’m up, turning on the computer. I’m a bad author and a bad husband and a bad father and a bad friend. All I do is write meaningless drivel that maybe 12 people a year will read and then immediately forget. Forgettable, I am. Even my own students can’t answer my pop theories quiz questions when they drop by my office. I wonder why they don’t stop in so much anymore.
Good thing I’m revising CBT today. God and Albert Ellis know, I sure as Hell need it.
One of today’s content areas is called, Thinking in Shades of Gray. It’s a description of a cognitive technique to help people get out of destructive, irrational, and maladaptive black-white (aka polarized) thinking. It’s boring. Of course it’s boring. Shades of gray? It’s a technique to help with depressive thoughts. I can hear the Albert Ellis voice in my head. WTF? You work with depressed people and you teach them how to think in shades of gray. What the Holy Hell are YOU thinking?
Later this morning, as I ride through Lower Grove Creek with yellow flowers and the Beartooth Mountains looming, I stop for a photo. There are no cars, no deer, and not even a trace of fungal spores. Just me and my breath and my bike and the yellow flowers and shades of gray, black, and white rising above. Why are there no colors in the shades of gray activity? There’s more to our thinking (and our client’s) thinking than black, white, and gray. Today, with the wind in my face and Tippet Rise to my starboard, I want to be an art therapist. “Let’s put a little yellow there,” I say. And the yellow grows into gold and happy breaks out.
But sooner or later, you and I know. We. Know. The yellow will catch dust and lose its sparkle and turn to mold, until a future morning at 3:51am, when a red seed of awareness gets planted among the anxiety bushes and purple flowers bloom, replacing the moldy browned-up yellow, and then we will remember. We have been here before. And it was wondrous and terrible and everything in between.
At that point, it’s not a bad idea to find your fit bit, take your pulse, and embrace the ever disintegrating now that is morning. You have your next 31 days and I have mine. Let’s meet somewhere in the middle and celebrate the next disintegrating now with all the passion and monotony we can muster. You know we can. We’ve done it before.
8 thoughts on “When the Yellow Grows into Gold and Happy Breaks Out”
Taking that bike ride, now that sounds like a metaphor for life! I was just thinking of “shades of green”, a round of golf and meeting your ball “somewhere in the middle” of the fairway might also be well deserved. Whether within 31 days, or beyond, let’s play a good 9! Pray for rain, that shade of gray might helps us all!
Hey Mike. We do need to find some shade on a nice green somewhere . . . or fairway. I’ve got 31 days of self-imposed non-golf and then we’ve got a trip to Portland, but then! We need to make it happen. I hope you and your family are doing great. John
Count me as one of those “10 people” who read your posts! I’m always happy to know what you’re up to. I’m also happy that someone as talented and intelligent as you is just as human as me, and wakes up early some days with fright just as I do! It’s a good reminder that anxiety sneaks up on us, no matter how successful or smart or talented we are! Thanks for your reminder!
Hi Becca. Now I’m even more depressed because I think I wrote that 12 people were reading my book and you’ve cut it back to 10. Woe is me:). Seriously, I appreciate you reading and commenting and I hope your life is fabulous. John
Love shades of gray-helps get trough life when the sunshine is not always bright, the clouds and rain emerge, but it is ok because life is Not a constant.
Thanks Johnannah! I hope you’ve got some very light gray with a dash of purple going on. Best, John SF
I’m with ÿou !