Thursday, July 30, 2009

A pleasant evening. And yet...

It was a good night. I made a tasty dinner with almost enough garlic to suit myself. I happened to notice that the temperature was falling, so I opened the windows and shut down the A/C. Now I'm listening to the seemingly endless drone of the cicadas and other night insects.

I was put into the remembrance of camping. That wonderful time of night after the meal has been cleared away and other evening business has been resolved. The fire gets extinguished and everyone heads back to their tents. The smell of the tent as you take one look around the undifferentiated darkness and then zip yourself in for the night. Eventually, all the people in tents stop making noise and the sounds of the evening are all that's left. No whipperwhils tonight, but they're more of a southeastern Missouri thing.

It's been a hard few weeks for me. Many things have happened that can be termed unfortunate. Nothing severe, I'm pleased to say. Just a steady stream of things that each took a sliver off the supports, like an endless parade of clumsy movers who always scratch the wall at that same place.

Part of it is the weather. I often talk about the effect of the whether on me during the fall and winter. How it lifts my spirits when the first shuddering breeze blows through town. How it makes me alive with happiness when the snow falls. But there's the opposite swing of that pendulum during the summer.

I don't mean just being displeased at the heat and humidity, either. Having been born in a particularly hot July, I've always detested the heat. I am continually uncomfortable if I can't be cool. I've been described as radiating warmth, so it's uncomfortable to be me on the hot days.

But there's a psychological toll from the summer, too; one that I don't always refer to seriously. If I do indeed have reverse SAD (seasonal affective disorder), my mood falls in the months that most people long for.

The heat makes me tired. It slows my thoughts and my actions. It makes me quicker to anger than normal. It pushes me into rash decisions, with the goal of trying to make some particular thing go away. It increases my irritability to levels beyond what I consider to be "me". It brings out a judgmental side that I would ordinarily blend out to avoid being unhelpful.

Perhaps worst of all, it increases my feelings of self-pity to wallowing levels, which is the damaging part. It makes it seductively easy to sulkily thrust out my lower jaw at anyone who has anything wonderful or constructive about their own lives. So I throw myself at whatever labor I can find, as a penance for conspiring against the happiness of my friends.

They're very real, these mood shifts. As always, I dislike them because I feel (even slightly) like I'm not in control of myself, a state that's very important to me. Or perhaps the shifts aren't real. Which would mean it's been a rotten summer, I suppose; a season that's piled lots of unfortunate things on top of each other.

Let's hope a change to being un-rotten is as simple as moving along in the path of seasons.

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