Right now, I have a lot of time on my hands, of course. We all do, and that can be scary. For me especially, it’s very scary. Don’t get me wrong, because I love to be alone. But too much alone time can sometimes turn very pessimistic, and very monotonous. People tend to praise the efforts of a routine. Wake up every morning, make a cup of coffee, maybe go for a run (if you’re lucky?), take a shower, make your bed, brush your hair, do your homework, go to class etc. On average, it takes around 2 months to form an automatic habit. So if you hit the two months, you’re golden. On the other hand, some people have addictive personalities, so it could be sooner. The rest of us, who have developed strong aversions to the idea of a habit and like the spontaneity in change, it can take much, much longer.
That being said, I have found myself falling into a routine. I wake up around 2 pm, do not roll your eyes at me because I know half of us do. I somehow get myself down the stairs for breakfast (some may call it late lunch), and then I go back upstairs and stare at my phone for the next 6 hours. After my 6 hours of invigorating nothingness, I go back downstairs, and if we’re lucky, watch Survivor. I devote my next however many hours annoying the absolute shit out of my sister. Then I go to bed when the sun comes up, ready to do it all again tomorrow. It’s scarily lazy. I allowed myself to drift into such a slump because I felt like I deserved it. With all of the uncertainty going on around us, and with the amount of energy I had spent over the past several months, I didn’t think any harm could come of it. One time, a friend told me I lived my life going 100 mph down I-40 with one hand on the wheel, smiling and waving to everyone I passed. And I did.
I dyed my hair pink every night for almost two weeks, because when I looked in the mirror that gave me something to focus on, instead of overwhelming myself with how horrifically I had failed my test the morning before, or how awfully I treated my best friends the last time they checked in on me. I was shattering plates. I mean Jesus Christ. I was walking down my back steps slinging ceramic plates at a brick wall for 45 minutes at a time because I could not sit down for more than 30 seconds and collect my own thoughts into a coherent sentence, so it built up into aggravated aggression. Some of the shattered plates are STILL out there! It’s been over a year!! I was flying so damn fast down that highway because I thought I could swing it.
My lifestyle has been compared to an eating disorder on several occasions, because I go go go until I can’t physically muster up the energy to even roll over. I binge, and then I purge. That’s where we are now, the purge. And I say that so absolutely metaphorically and lightly because I am in fact very nervous that one of these nights we’ll hear those sirens, you know, given the circumstances.
At this point, I know you are probably wondering what the hell I am getting at, we’re almost there. I like to write in metaphor, clearly. Especially when what I’m trying to vocalize, doesn’t really have a name, or its own voice, even.
Here we go. A while ago, I gave a friend some advice that now I wish I had taken sooner.
The closest thing that I can think to relate it to is getting rid of the hiccups. You know, when you settle down, for just long enough that your breathing becomes steady. The time in between your little hiccups becomes longer, and longer. You think they’re gone, completely. But the second you forget about them, they’re back. There are different ways to cure hiccups, for good. You can hold your breath, you can ask someone to scare you, or you can simply take a deep breath and just wait. You don’t ever really have to wait them out, but sometimes you do, because you don’t know any better.
I didn’t have to just wait it out, but I did the best I could with who I was at the time. The pink washed out of my hair after some trial and error shampoos, and the majority (hopefully) of the plates have been swept up.
Now, in English. The slump doesn’t last forever, even in ambiguous times. There’s a slippery slope between letting yourself breathe, and letting yourself go. Just like the tease in between your hiccups. Conscious reminders to keep us on track (for me, the empty bottle of pink hair dye) do serve a purpose. There’s no harm in a nap for a few hours, or at some points, a few days. But there is harm in forgetting to wake up, in forgetting that we can do more than wait it out.
I cure my hiccups by drinking water upside down, my mom does it by timing her breathing to the beat of a song, and my dad takes absurdly deep breaths and puffs his cheeks out until you’d think his eyeballs were going to fall out of his head. Hiccups go away, and they come back just as fast. It’s just a fact of life. Life moves upward and downward, and sometimes sideways too, but it’s never stationary, and it’s never permanent.