For the past week or so, I have felt like I’ve been running on empty—as if my energy levels have slowly been depleting and nothing has been filling them back up. I found myself wanting to take more naps, or to just lounge on the couch watching Netflix (which isn’t a horrible thing to do, but enough is enough). And even my mood suffered. I have been getting snippier with my husband, day by day. Until it was obvious that he was carefully calculating what he should and should not say to me before he spoke at all. This made me feel a strange mixture of guilt and irritation. I didn’t like it.
It all came to a head a few mornings ago, when I reached my breaking point. I had gotten to “the Danger Zone,” what I call the emotional and mental state in which I simply hate any and everything, and get ridiculously inconvenienced by life in general. When I hit the Danger Zone, all bets are off. An—almost—unmanageable frustration could build up inside me at any moment, triggered by some menial thing that I normally wouldn’t think twice about.
That morning a few days ago, it was the milk carton (or I suppose I should say soy-milk carton. Lactose intolerance, for the win). All I wanted was a small bowl of cereal before I went to work. Just a smidgen of soy-milk with my Cheerios. But the world was out to get me—as it always seems to be when I am in the Danger Zone (how incredibly rude of the world).
I couldn’t unscrew the cap on the top of the carton—no! The cap of the carton refused to be unscrewed. It wasn’t my fault for having abnormally weak hands. It was the manufacturer’s fault for making an industrially strong cap for the soy-milk. Apparently, they didn’t want anyone to drink their product. But, to be completely honest, I was only trying to open the carton for a grand total of two minutes before I got so frustrated that I gave up. So, it really is truly unreasonable that I allowed myself to get so upset. My hands feeling like they were raw from rubbing against the textured cap, I could sense that in just a few moments, I was about to angry-cry. Angry-cry. Over a soy-milk carton.
That was kind of when I realized something needed to be done.
So, the next morning, I asked my husband if he would let me take a morning walk by myself, instead of with him, like we usually do. I let him know that I needed time to think, and re-evaluate. He all but pushed me out the door, and slammed it behind me. I took that to mean I was doing the right thing. For both of us.
As I strolled down the road right outside of our apartment, the cool air of the morning seemed to sing through me. I could actually feel my muscles relaxing, my gait lengthening, and my mind clearing. There is a small park near our apartment complex, so I went there, expecting to have to dodge the dog-walkers and stroller-pushers. But surprisingly, no one was around, and I had the whole park to myself. It was truly a dream to walk beneath the canopy of trees above me, beginning to color with the onset of the autumn season, not far away. As I slowly moved forward, I would glance up at the little patches of sky that I could see between the leaves of the trees. They seemed to make a pattern up there, something beautiful and elusive, that no artist could ever recreate.
And when I got home from the park, I realized something had happened that I am almost sure has never happened before. I hadn’t thought at all during my walk. Not about my mood, not about my responsibilities, not about my friends, husband, family. Not about what I was going to do at work that day, or about what I needed to get at the grocery store. I had literally gone about thirty minutes without a conscious thought.
Now, this is a revelation for me. My brain is constantly going. Not because I’m so very smart, but because I tend to over-think things, and over-plan things, and generally over-everything things. So when I got back into my apartment, my husband looked up at me, expecting me to bombard him with all the things I learned about myself during my walk… And when I had nothing to say, he—and I—were amazed.
So, now I am going to tell all of you what I learned about myself during that walk (because I have to have learned something). Sometimes, all I need to recharge is some silence. And the rest just kind of falls into place.