I am a quiet person.
OK, I’m going to stop for a moment here so that those of you that know me can get the inevitable chuckle out of your system. Or maybe you know me so well that you’re not chuckling at all.
I am quiet. My favorite time of the day is when it is so late that even the night creatures have turned in. At times like that, I like to stand out on the front porch and listen to all that nothing. It sometimes makes me feel like I’m the only one in the world.
To me, this has a certain appeal. Not only am I quiet, I am an introvert (which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone). That doesn’t mean that I can’t handle people or crowds. I can. I just find myself mentally (and sometimes physically) drained afterward and I need to step away from the world and recharge.
I am simply at my best when I’m by myself and quiet.
But, like everything else, there are down sides to this. For me, socializing with people that I don’t know is very difficult. Even more treacherous for me is the temptation to not voice opinions. To quietly go along with the crowd even if the general consensus isn’t in the same ballpark as what I might personally prefer. To suppress myself so as to not make too much noise. To, in effect, not be me. It’s a gradual degradation.
I’ve started calling it the “meh of the day to day”. It’s mental and emotional build up that comes from that kind of prolonged suppression. It weighs on you and, when it gets heavy enough, it starts influencing decisions. Why go do that cool thing when all you’ll have to do later on is put stuff back, clean stuff up? Ugh…why not just go watch more TV instead?That’s easy. There’s no mess. No noise.
When I write it out like this, it seems obvious, but I don’t think I was aware of it until recently. Not consciously, anyway. There were days where I’d have a fleeting thought (usually just before I fell asleep) that the day I’d just ended was exactly like the day before…and it wasn’t all that hot. And there was a big helping of the same thing coming up tomorrow.
A friend of mine described it like a shroud, but it’s worse than that. It hardens. Makes it that much more difficult to break free. Over time, it fills in your definition. Details begin to blur. Eventually, all that’s left is a smoothed over lump of “meh” with you buried underneath…until something happens.
For me, that something was cancer.
I had it in my right shoulder and I had surgery to remove it (the cancer, not the shoulder…watch those pronouns). The prognosis was very good and the doctors were confident that they removed it all.
But I don’t know where it came from so I can’t be 100% sure that it won’t come back. In all honesty, I’m probably in the above 95% range, but part of me remains aware of that five percent. I’ve started using it as a reminder.
There are those of you that already know this part of the story and I want to take a small diversion here to (again) say “Thank you!” Thank you for the support, thoughts, prayers, good vibes, and, well, your efforts to keep me in a positive place before, during and after the surgery. I love each and every one of you and I couldn’t ask for better friends.
But there are some of you that haven’t heard this yet, and you should have. I should have called, texted, emailed, done something…
But I didn’t. At the time, I couldn’t. For that, I am abjectly sorry. I am a lousy friend.
But I’m going to get better.
Cancer hit that shroud of “meh” and shattered it. I wont lie. It wasn’t pleasant. There was a time where I was as bare and sensitive as an exposed nerve and feeling so fragile that I was hesitant to even play with my dogs.
So there I am, maybe a week or so after the surgery. I’m hurting and undergoing some fundamental changes. Changes in my diet, in the way I live my life (By this time, I was able to put on a shirt by myself. Prior to that? No way in hell was I able to dress.), my sleeping pattern was off, the whole nine yards.
On top of that, I hadn’t written two words since before going under. Finally, the urge to get up there and write gets to be too intense to ignore, so I brave the carpet-covered steps up to my writing room (Even as early as 24 hours prior to this, I was feeling so fragile that the thought of taking those steps was kinda terrifying).
As I (carefully) climb the stairs, I pass through some cobwebs left by an enterprising predator. I pass through a few more before I reach my laptop and start swiping the place clear. As I’m doing this, I look at my guitar (which I also haven’t played since the surgery) and it hits me that I’ll probably have to retune it as well.
It occurs to me, then, that this is a pretty good analogy for my life at this moment. I’ve fallen into disrepair. I need to brush away the cobwebs, retune, and get back into the swing of things, if a little slowly at first.
I’ve got some healing to do, and it isn’t purely physical.
That’s part of what this blog is for. To remind me of the danger of “meh”. To remind me that I need (as Delilah S. Dawson puts it) to take up the fucking reins and drive.
I will also talk about writing here, because that’s what I do. But the writing doesn’t happen in a bubble and, sometimes, I need to be reminded of that too.
There are some things that wont (and probably wont ever) change. I am still an introvert and I am still a quiet guy. Only now, it won’t be because I’m too weighed down by “meh” to manage more than the path of least resistance.
From now on, it will be on my terms.
Music: Blind Guardian – Another Stranger Me