The paranoia that comes with the start of a new year has already set in. It has left my stomach with the same kind of uneasy feeling I get every time that TV announcer says I will save more money if I spend more money and I nod my head in confused agreement. I dig into my pocket to see how much cash is handy, thinking I better get busy shopping else wind up a pauper for sure.
I can feel the walls creeping in on me, and that can only mean one of these three things: either the world is suffocating me, I am gaining weight or both. This is what happens when an illness befalls you and you are forced to “take it slow.” You have time on your hands and on your mind, and as we all know, an idol mind is the devil’s Tinkertoy kit or something to that effect.
You take to the couch and the television set, and that is a recipe for disaster. I don’t have the ability to watch television without thinking about what I am watching. The next think you know, patterns start to be discerned, ideas spring forth, and trouble sets in.
I noticed that for weeks on end I have been told to indulge, to party, to eat and drink up, and to spend all my cash because that is the only way to be happy. Cheery, colorful songs play, and everyone is smiling. They must know something I don’t know. I wonder if I should follow.
Then, all of a sudden someone announces that last year was a really bad one, but that there is a way to fix that if we follow some sage advice. They illuminate a large glass sphere and drop it off a tall building while millions of shivering people grope each other on the streets below this glass god. Then everyone departs to look for a restroom, more adult beverages, and a way to keep the smile of the past year still on their faces.
The people arrive home and switch on their televisions, only to find that the cheery voices have turned to scolding ones. Although you spent every cent you had (and more) you didn’t get what you wanted. If you want to get that smile back, the only solution is to spend more. And look at you; you over-indulged and know you have to sign up for a weight loss program or else you won’t be able to fit into your swimsuit when the snow melts and the beaches reopen. You better dig deeper into that pocket.
The television shows have switched from bright and bouncy to dark and chillingly dreary. An Alfred Hitchcock marathon gives way to a three-day Twilight Zone binge. If you opt for a news channel, you get a rundown of lists: everything from a list of all the famous people who have died in the past year, to a video montage of all the nightclub shootings, to a musically-scored mini-documentary on all the weather disasters that recently hit the planet.
I reach for my bag of Fritos and am frozen in place.
“Wait,” I tell myself. “Was I supposed to keep eating or what?”
That is when I realize that, once again I am confused. Where can I turn for the truth? Is there another place where I can find it, besides the places I have always found it in the past? Can I turn to social media, and all the happy people with smiling faces and delicious food and fancy vacations? Everyone there seems to have a better life — until the complaints start. What about television? No, I never trust the people there. They just sell their products.
I turn off all my technology but one: my music. I place my noise-canceling headphones upon my head and blast David Bowie into my ears until my heart again feels the pain of his death. I close my eyes and feel him come to life once again.
And I feel better.
Not because problems have been solved. Not because the world has changed. But because I feel and think once again. I am myself once again.
My love is back, and that is all I need.