I just learned the word “anhedonia.” It means the inability to experience pleasure. Writers have been using the term a lot recently (15,700 results came up when I searched for it in Google News) to describe one of Covid’s long term effects on mental health. Over the weekend, I came across anhedonia in a New York Times article, which linked it to another good vocab word: anosmia, or the loss of smell.
Smell is intimately tied to both taste and appetite, and anosmia often robs people of the pleasure of eating. But the sudden absence also may have a profound…
I watched 10 minutes of American network news on January 2nd. The gloom and doom were in full swing: infections, political vetoes and overrides, deaths, and snowstorms. I didn’t stick around for the short feel-good story at the end that’s supposed to make me all warm and fuzzy after being shoved into a vat of burning tar.
2021 is off to a dark start.
Or maybe not?
It depends on what you know about black holes.
A black hole is a place in space where a tremendous amount of matter is packed into a very tiny area. Think of a…
The sky over my house is gray. The continuous fires just over the mountain leave a thin layer of ash to sweep away in the mornings. Like just about everything else, the fires have been bad this year.
On my morning walks, my mask pulls double duty against the virus and the smoke. It’s hard, literally, to pause, take a deep breath, and appreciate the beauty of small moments. There don’t seem to be many small moments these days. They’ve all gone out with the cruel tide that’s been 2020.
I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve this algorithm, but van life is very Instagrammy right now. Current global conditions, meaning an actual pandemic that I still can’t fathom (but fully believe) is real, have resulted in many a free spirit opting to swap their leases for Sprinter vans and hit the road. I love this idea. I’m a huge fan of small spaces, minimalist living, and ample freedom. What I cannot bring myself to include in my fantasies is pooping in the woods, public toilets, or an actual goddamned bucket, always, every time. Absolutely not.
You’ve seen these…
My timeline stops on March 10, 2020.
That sounds so futuristic to say. Like I’m some kind of Sarah Connor and that’s the date pinpointed by time travelers to snuff me out before I get pregnant with the leader of the resistance. Or to make sure I get pregnant? I don’t know. My Terminator knowledge is fuzzy at best, and there’s no one here to ask but my cat. I could look it up, but the last thing I want to do while sitting alone in the epicenter of a global pandemic is Google the robot uprising.
One dystopian hellscape…
In the opening chapter of his book, The Order of Time, physicist Carlo Rovelli writes:
“Let’s begin with a simple fact: Time passes faster in the mountains than it does at sea level.”
He describes a situation where two friends separate, with one going to live in the mountains and one moving to the plains:
When I was 11 years old, I watched the second Jurassic Park movie, The Lost World, and had a panic attack about a giant meteor hitting the Earth and causing the end of the world. I lay in bed and pushed my open eyes into my pillowcase, imagining the last moments I would spend with my family. Apart from the total and encompassing terror a panic attack brings, I sensed frustration — this imagined catastrophe was so utterly unfair. Why did this have to happen to me? Surely it wasn’t the actual end? What did I do wrong?
Consider home. Discover the way the sun enters a room mid-afternoon. Rediscover a room’s hidden corners. Light a candle. Take care of your home. Clean it, but try to find pleasure in the act: Taking care of the space around you can help reduce anxiety and establish a sense of control and order.
Consider time. Is it lunchtime? Bedtime? If you benefit from a sense of control, work at maintaining a routine. Otherwise, relish the freedom to eat when you’re hungry and sleep when you’re tired.
On that note:
Consider sleep. According to Matthew Walker, author of Why We Sleep…
In a time of such global uncertainty, it’s important to invest in our future selves.
I know what you’re thinking: all of that forward-thinking would give you too much anxiety; it would take you out of the present moment and make you feel totally disconnected from the joys of daily life.
In response, I ask you this: Are you really being present now? Are you really savoring and soaking up every bit of joy now? Are you really connected to the people around you now?
The answer is probably no.
This is because it’s almost completely impossible to relax, live…