I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere. Not like here. Here everything is soft and smooth.
–Anakin Skywalker, “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones”
This past weekend offered several opportunities for the Black Dog to take charge of my mind and fuck everything up. I had to work (it’s indoor work, but still) and I decided to cancel my trip to Bandera. The rain forecast was enough to keep me away from going to my first-ever motorcycle rally. And I was pretty disappointed.
But, I have acquired a few tools to win more battles against the Black Dog.
Fus Ro Dah
The first weapon is breathing. I believe they call it the Thu’um in “Skyrim.” I wish I could tell you about how I dragon-shouted a mofo who was in my way and taking too damn long at HEB, but this breathing is much simpler.
It doesn’t feel like it, but my therapist calls it meditation. Sit down. Plant your feet. Straighten your back. Place your palms on your knees.
Breathe in through your nose for four seconds. Hold it for four seconds. Breathe out from your mouth for eight seconds. Do that for a minute. Repeat it three times a day.
You know what? Damn trick works. Like I said, I had several opportunities to get pissed off and act negatively. But, for the most part, I used this technique to keep my cool.
Pardon the Anakin quote
In an effort to be more positive, I decided to try and be excited about going to the beach yesterday. If you know me well enough, you know I’m not shy about voicing my hatred of the beach. I hate the sand. The salt water. The utter lack of natural shade. I hate sticking my feet into murky water.
Plus, there were nine small ones to look after. My two kids, four nephews, my friend’s boys and, last but not least, my 12-year-old rat dog, Lanolin. At times, it was like herding kittens.
I’d much rather have a day out at one of the parks by our house. Guth or Hazel Bazemore. They’re both great, to me. But no one wants to spend all day there.
Goose blah blah
The first time I got pissed off yesterday was at the gas pump.
The fuck you mean my damn card is invalid, I thought incredoulsly while trying to gas up. I finally got the gas going and did my breathing to calm down. Yep, it worked.
After that, it was the crowd at HEB Plus in the Bluff. The three separate trips to the service counter to buy three separate parking permits (which is no one’s fault). The lady there finally convinced me to buy a scratch-off. I didn’t win.
But, through all that, I decided to keep calm and find positive ways to steer my thoughts.
- I was getting to spend time with family and friends
- I love seeing my boys have fun
- Lacey is glad when we’re all together
And, I’ll admit it, I didn’t really have any other plans. Probably would have just sat on my ass on the couch while they were at the beach.
I had a blast. I really did. Me and the boys threw the football for awhile. I waded out far enough to shoot the breeze with my brother (and take a wiz at the same time). And I got to do my favorite thing when I go to the beach: relax a bit.
I can lament all day about not getting to do the things I want to do, but just one genuine smile on my kids’ faces, or an unsolicited “I love you, dad,” makes my disappointment melt away.
On the key ring
- I decided to be positive in spite of external factors (e.g. persnickety gas pumps, slow ass people at HEB)
- I took a few deep breaths when things seemed overwhelming
- I got up and got out (get up of your ass, man)
- I focused on those around me
There will be other rallies and other opportunities for me to do things I enjoy, so I don’t regret missing out on this past one at all. Maybe I’ll have my own biker rally. With blackjack and hookers.