Confession: Yesterday it was so depressing outside that not only did I bail on a hike date, I couldn’t even be bothered to leave the house to run errands. I worked from home all day, ate dinner and at 8 p.m. I thudded upstairs and parked myself in the bathtub.
My nose protruded from the water as I sunk down and pretended what was happening outside, wasn’t.
What was the horror outside my door, you ask? Rain. Lots of it.
(I know, I’d make a terrible Southeastern Alaskan. I love you, Juneau, but you rain too much for me.)
I probably don’t need to clarify for Alaskans that it’s not just the rain that has me down. Rain in the summer? Fine. Not optimal, but doable.
It’s November rain, however. It’s difficult to have any enthusiasm at all about leaving the house, much less spending much time out there.
Again, I thought about this while fully submerged in the tub. Woe is me, etc.
In the short term, it’s depressing. Longer term, it’s difficult not to feel overwhelmed and depressed by magnitude of the impacts of the climate changing so rapidly and erratically. And this is simply from some water falling unseasonably from the sky in Alaska — not horrific wildfires, not hurricanes.
That level of thought is enough to flood my brain and park me firmly in the present, trying to appreciate and enjoy what is right in front of me, because the rest is too much to bear.
I find that I live my life on this continuum between hedonism — my enthusiastic pursuit of things in life that feel good and bring me joy — and austerity. I will frequently declare that our home is going Greek and undergoing austerity measures to save money, cut down waste or pool all of our effort into one purpose.
Then, it’s time to go big and enjoy the world.
Then, back to austerity.
This see-saw between hedonism and austerity helps me accept and embrace two things as true at the same time. I get one life that’s worth living to its fullest and I should enjoy absolutely every second of it for what it’s worth. And, as a global citizen, I’m responsible for my own engagement and impact, even if it feels like a tiny drop in the bucket (which, by the way, is filling up as it rains harder). I take care of myself and my own little world so I can do my part to take care of the broader world, which feeds back to the first, and so on and so on.
The question becomes how to avoid sinking into a depression, because my entire outside world seems like a reminder of how out of whack things truly are.
My first answer is, sometimes it’s OK to bail on the hike and not leave the house. Hello, bathtub.
My second answer is, that’s not an OK routine. Life is both hard and beautiful, and most days I have to push myself through the “hard” to get to the beauty.
Right now, I’m more deliberate about setting up the hike and run dates with friends. It’s harder to bail on a buddy. I take opportunities as they present themselves — over the weekend the ice skating was prime, and if the melt freezes over again the ice will come back.
Finally, I try to take the long view.
The snow, and the light, will come back. I have to keep my strength and focus in the meantime. A week from now, if there’s snow on the ground, I’ll barely remember this. Light outshines darkness.
If you see my headlamp bobbing along in the dark, you’ll know I’m pushing through what feels difficult to get to something good.
Including, probably, the tub.
Alli Harvey lives in Palmer and plays in Southcentral Alaska.