Stepping back

The clocks go forward this weekend and although I probably should ‘lean in’, as I limp into the Easter holidays I am in reflective mode; I have decided to take a step back to count my blessings and to get a different perspective.

I had accredited the need to take my foot off the throttle down to age, too much running and a busy term at school. But then I make the discovery that it may be the results of anhedonia (No? me neither until I read an article by Tanith Carey in one of those moments when I had taken the decision to step back rather than charge through my ‘to do’ list or write down today’s gratitudes. Apparently anhedonia is the, ‘reduced ability to experience pleasure from the things you used to enjoy.’ I am almost relieved to hear that it is a ‘thing’ because I am starting to bore myself with my grumpiness and feelings of ‘blah’. Life has been feeling like an effort of late and I can not keep putting this all down to the menopause and a house purchase that refuses to kick in.

I have little truck with miserable people and yet I am behaving like someone who is hardly likely to attract joy and laughter.

If you can bear to consult my blog back catalogue, I was convinced that coming out of the Pandemic we would feel so grateful for our new freedoms that we would be belly laughing our way towards retirement and skipping down the pavement like a child. Instead, skipping is low on my agenda for I need all my energy to just ‘hang on in’.

I speak to friends of similar years and they are feeling the same – I speak to the ‘youth’ at school and they are too, so it can not just be an age thing. Glass half empty is not flattering so I try to remember the rules that took things away during Lockdown so that I can feel more grateful about the freedoms that have returned. Remember:

  • bubbles – of numerical not playful structure.
  • sitting on a bench with one other person to ‘enjoy’ a coffee
  • theatres and cinemas being out of bounds
  • likewise live entertainment
  • sport without spectators
  • flour and pasta rationing in the supermarket

Strange that we forget so quickly. Next time I do a food shop I am going to summon the energy to skip into Tescos joyous in the knowledge that I no longer need to hani-san, sterilise my shopping trolley or wait for someone to leave the shop before the green light tells me that I can proceed inside to procure the ingredients for that long-awaited sour dough loaf.

Maybe we are still fatigued from holding it all together for so long? It takes a lot of energy to be so well-behaved. Maybe this is why the students at school have started taking their sandwiches into the girls’ toilets to have a picnic on the bathroom floor, they are probably too tired from all that hygiene and bubbling during the Lockdown years to make it the dining area. Maybe this is why the students get a little tetchy when you ask them to tuck their shirts in and query the absence of a school tie – it must be exhausting getting into school on time and ditching the WFH uniform of Airforce and hoodie. There is just no joy for students in this new world of school freedom.

Maybe this is why the strangers sitting next to me at the cinema now seem to be excessively noisy eaters – perhaps they are just crunching their popcorn extra loudly to make up for all that Lockdown silence? Perhaps there is more litter around the local park benches because you can now have an uncurfewed bench party rather than a restricted coffee with your chosen other? Next time I run past a bench full of debris I will celebrate those empty beer bottles, cans and takeaway wrappers… I will just pop them in the bin with a cheery chuckle.

Nothing in the article on anhedonia tells me to lean back – rather it tells me (and you if you would like to join in) to plan things to look forward to; it does advise me/you to record these pleasures so that we can relive the enjoyment and remind ourselves of this happiness – this part sounds like leaning back and reflecting to me.

I like the idea of leaning back – not slouching – but just changing perspective rather than always dipping for the line. At the race I entered last weekend (a race taking place again for the first time since the Pandemic) I saw an exhausted runner throw himself at the finish line to the extent that had it not been for the quick thinking and agility of spectators, he would certainly have overshot and landed face down in the bank of portaloos beyond. If ever there was a metaphor for leaning back, I give you this.

Now that I am leaning back, I can also reflect on the rest of last week’s race; I didn’t have the time last weekend for I was too busy hurtling on to my next appointment further down the motorway. I am reminded now how joyous this run was – not necessarily the miles for they hurt as much as ever – but the fellow runners, the good natured marshalls, the beautiful country route and the sunshine all made it a special event. I did not skip across the line, but I certainly enjoyed the cake and coffee at the end.

And now I think about it, there was one morning this week when I was especially giggly for no reason other than I had seen a whopping great rainbow on my morning commute. Rainbows should be prescribed on the NHS for a regular dopamine hit. I told so many people about this rainbow, that since then, I have been receiving photos of other rainbows from around the country. A patchwork of rainbows is a joyous thing. With the clocks going forward, I may need to alter my position to be a little more forward-facing again. Now that we have seen rainbows, surely there will be a unicorn gathering just around the corner, and we all know that the collective noun for a group of unicorns is a ‘blessing’. A blessing could just be the antidote to anhedonia.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Carol Trocchi says:

    Keep chasing those rainbows , the pleasures will lift your energies!
    NB That popcorn eater would irritate me every time …..damned MISOPHONIA!!!!


  2. There must be a blog in misophonia…watch this space!


  3. Picnics in the girls bog? I must be an old fart


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