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According to the good people of Twitter, I have now been back posting on Twitter for 28 days. Which is kind of interesting, because I was gone for three weeks and swore I was never coming back.
It’s probably because I noticed something during those three weeks. And I encourage everyone who reads this that posts on social media to notice the same.
It wasn’t that I missed it. I just changed my routine so during the day I was reading something different – about a dozen books to be exact – and that sufficed.
But to be honest, my biggest concern during the shutdown hasn’t been COVID-19 or the economy. It is the mental health of a lot of people. I’m a pretty positive person, but during these months there have been days even I have felt like “what’s the point of getting out of bed?” I’m usually snapped out of that mood by a big brown and white dog poking its nose in my face, or my wife saying something snarky that makes me smile.
That’s all it takes. Which makes me lucky to have those two influencing my life.
But others aren’t so lucky. It starts with waking up with a case of the blues, and then turns into a vicious cycle that jumps to “am I going to lose my job?”, “how are we going to pay the bills?” and on and on. Some of my friends who are single/divorced and live alone have told me of days they never get out of bed because they’ve just become depressed wondering “am I going to be alone for the rest of my life?” in addition to everything else going on in the world.
I’m probably overly sensitive to this because twice in my life, people who were friends of mine took their own life. One was a good friend I had worked with for years; the second one involved someone who I was extremely close to. We had spent all day at a Nationals game only a few days before, and I had no clue anything was wrong.
That loss prompted not only intense grief, but a huge feeling of guilt. I replayed every interaction I had with him for well over a year. Could I have said or done something to nudge him out of whatever mood he was in that morning that would have caused him to smile, go back in the house, and not do what he did?
I’ll never know the answer to that. But since then, if you’re around me and you appear sad and/or withdrawn, I don’t wait for you to tell me something is wrong. I’d rather annoy someone with too much cheer than risk one day hearing the telephone ring again with bad news at the other end.
During the three weeks I stopped posting on Twitter, several very kind people emailed me (you can click on a link at the bottom of this site’s front page to contact me) to say how much they missed seeing pictures of Maggie in some form of mischief. It made me think if this furry knucklehead can make others smile as much as she does me, well, I thought, I need to figure out a way to ignore all the political rants that make Twitter so toxic, and start posting again.
During the shutdown, in fact, Twitter can be quite helpful if used properly. Not for preaching. Or rants. Or trying to make money via likes and impressions. But for telling stories that make people smile.
I have always had a theory that we are all part of the same dysfunctional family; we just live in different houses. We all love our families but can’t stand them at times; we all struggle with trying to figure out what we’re going to make for dinner; we all have a spouse who adjusts the thermostat or shrieks at a spider just minding its own business. We have good times and bad times, and sharing them somehow makes life under the current conditions just a little more tolerable.
I know I smile when some poor person is roped into watching a Hallmark Christmas Movie in the middle of July. Or yelled at because he didn’t use the proper tone and was unjustly accused of having a bad attitude. Or even a memory of something that happened 50 years ago and I think “I had one of those too.”
If it made me smile and helped my day, I reason, maybe if I should do the same in hopes it might make somebody else smile.
So I’m back for good. I won’t be passing on any great wisdom, or analyzing some political trend, or even preaching to you about how to lose 28 pounds in the next 3 days. But I will share with you details of my every day life, along with all its imperfections, in hopes you might think “me too” and break into a smile.
I strongly encourage all of you to do the same 😊