Today is February 6. Unless you’re shirtless in sunny Chile, like my annoying podcast partner Andrew Langford, you are likely smack dab in the middle of the sludge, drudge, and darkness of your local winter. For many, this is their least favorite time of year and the current hysteria surrounding the pandemic and Presidential acquittal can’t be helping. Having fallen victim to this Seasonal Sadness in the past, I thought I’d check in with all of you and see how you’re doing? If you’re struggling, I’ve been there.
Roughly 10 years ago today, I was lying in my pajamas on our living room couch. Again. It was the middle of the day. I was wrapped in a blanket. A casual observer may have assumed I had just been rescued from an Arctic expedition gone awry but no, I was simply feeling blue. My seasonal business had gone dark and its effect was strong that winter. Plus I was broke. The tears that flowed from my face that day were not tears of despair but tears of empathy, for Rudy, who had just found out he wouldn’t be playing football for Notre Dame. “He’s worked so hard for this,” I blubbered through my tears. “The poor guy just can’t catch a break.” I know how you feel Rudy. I feel you!!!
It was at this moment, stuck in my snot and weird tears that I heard something behind me. I clicked pause, craned my neck around and caught the face of my wife. It was a look I will never forget. She had seen this movie before. Recognizing my fragile situation, Angie chose her words carefully. “How’s it going there? What’s your plan?” My plan? Well, I thought I’d watch Hoosiers next…
What I actually said, while wiping my eyes, was, “it’s surprising how emotional this movie is, apparently, it’s the #1 movie men cry in.” Silence. Her look had now changed to fear. Feeling her growing concern I launched into an angry defensive tirade. “I’m a seasonal business, of course, we’re slow right now!! I can’t just manufacture work out of thin air!! I’d love to see you run this business. What am I supposed to do?? Pretend I have a job??”
“You do have a job.”
I JUST SAID WE ARE A SEASONAL BUSINESS!!! STOP ACTING LIKE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT!!! YOU KNOW NOTHINGGGGGG!!! That’s when her face changed to something else. And she walked away. Leaving me alone in my snotty pajamas.
As I laid there, I saw myself for the person I had become. A sad sack crying over Rudy in the middle of the day. At that moment, my fear soaked defensive rage turned to shame. And deep regret. Angie was right. She had come to me in courage knowing this is likely how I would react. And I hadn’t disappointed.
It turns out, this is what we do when we’re scared and don’t know what to do. We lash out. We rage. We hurt the ones we love. We also watch Rudy in the middle of the day while blaming the weather for our troubles.
As my fear and rage dissipated, I knew I had become a victim of my circumstances. I threw off my blanky and decided I would never be a victim again. The next day I set my alarm. Got up early. And worked like I had a job to do. Wouldn’t you know it, the phone began to ring and day-time TV, SAD and self-loathing quickly became a thing of the past.
We have 2 choices. We can be a victim in need of rescuing or the one who does the rescuing. We can believe our dis-order is external and wait for the weather to change or we can do the hard work internally and become an agent of change. This is called the Hero’s journey. As humans, it is the journey we all must take. When we do, we save ourselves. And by saving ourselves, we save the day.
Just like Rudy.