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The Trouble with Ruts

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I had this thought on Saturday, though we’d actually been quite active through late morning and early afternoon, that summertime is our season of hibernation. It was like 2:30 p.m. I was sitting on the couch, too tired after mowing the lawn and bagging leaves to even reach for the remote, staring out at the […]

July 19, 2010


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I had this thought on Saturday, though we’d actually been quite active through late morning and early afternoon, that summertime is our season of hibernation. It was like 2:30 p.m. I was sitting on the couch, too tired after mowing the lawn and bagging leaves to even reach for the remote, staring out at the relentless, oppressive sunshine pounding the front yard and beyond. It’s the kind of weather that makes me want to hole up in a cool, dark cave somewhere and nap.

 

I don’t believe in mood-by-weather—I’m terrified to think that something else might have ultimate control of how I feel—but I am learning to give myself a break for occasionally being a little grumpy come summer. The instant effect of burning humidity closing in around my ears and neck, even if everything else is hunky dory, sets off my subconscious grouch before I even know it. And then, without realizing it, I whittle down my list of potential activities because somewhere deep in my brain I’m convinced that stepping outside equals intolerable discomfort. Like it’s almost an automatic impossibility, like playing golf in the rain or showing up to a nice restaurant without reservations—don’t even try it; it just ain’t gonna work.

 

I have to consciously avoid that instinct, keep waking myself up from it whenever I doze off.

 

So anyway, that’s where I’ve been lately, thanking my lucky stars that this time of year especially, ice hockey is as much a physical relief (God bless air conditioning) as mental salve, and the rest of the time just trying to keep my emotions on manual override instead of default grouch. Like I need the extra incentive to be neurotic.

 

I’d like to stop thinking about thinking, y’see, but I don’t trust my brain to stay on course if left unsupervised.

 

I guess I think of a routine as ideal—like, if only I could just find the right routine, I could lock it in and cruise. But even if I weren’t constantly reevaluating my routine, summertime seems to sap all my momentum anyway. And I can’t tell if sitting on my couch and catching up on my backlog of Rolling Stone issues is an improvement on the routine, or just surrendering to summertime inertia.

 

In my life’s metronome, Sunday hockey is the primary beat, with workdays the unrelenting eighth notes, and Saturday a dramatic rest. (This is, what, 4/7 time or something?) And over those beats you improvise a tune or go back to your refrain, measure after measure, week after week. I like the music and all, but you can drive yourself crazy if you don’t vary the volume, constantly adjusting notes, when trying to rise above the din only contributes to its monotony. Some summer days, it feels like the most soothing song would be nothing but a steady tick…tock in an otherwise quiet, dark room.