I so enjoyed our FaceTime call on Thursday last. It was so wonderful to see your face and enjoy your company for a brief but much-needed afternoon. It is times like these that remind us how powerful and important it is to have supportive friends.
But I have to tell you, Marie, while I did so love spending time with you, the barrage of text messages you’ve sent since we last chatted are starting to wear on me.
It seems like a wonderful way for you to spend 15 minutes every morning. Truly. What a delightful, quasi-meditative exercise to show your grace and humility in a Moleskine notebook. And in trying times like these—a quarantine, for heaven’s sake!—it seems like it’s really helped you find peace and comfort. I’m thrilled for you.
I can tell by how enthusiastically you endorse the concept that it is an important and powerful force in your life. But here’s the issue, Marie.
An antique lamp. Something expensive and irreplaceable. Like the one in the living room of your parents’ summer home in Nantucket. I think throwing that lamp, as hard as I possibly can, through the stairway wall—the one that chronologically displays annual photos of your family wearing khaki pants and white linen tops—would be far more therapeutic and restorative than jotting down niceties for an audience of one.
However, I think I’m okay with me right now. I don’t really think I’m the issue here. It’s not that I think I’m perfect—heaven knows there’s always room for improvement—but what’s bringing me down is the life-threatening, highly contagious virus with no vaccine or treatment protocol that has ground the world to a veritable halt.
I spend hours each day staring at the ceiling, out the window, and into my coffee. I’ve already considered who I am, what’s become of me, and what I could have done differently to improve my lot. What I’ve realized, as part of my daily ritual of slipping ever deeper into existentialist dread, is that the answer is: Nothing. There is nothing I could have done. I am nothing. We are nothing. Nothing means anything.
Trust me, the last thing I need is a journal to help this self-reflection habit stick.
That’s incredible. What a testament. Unfortunately, Marie, I don’t think my psychological well-being would be improved by documenting “the little things” that “spark joy” right now. I’m not sure it would be helpful for me to alternate scrawling the words “toilet paper” and “shelf stable peanut butter” every other day for however long this nightmare lasts—2 months? 6 months? A year? A lifetime?
It clearly works wonders for you—I can tell by your persistent but magnanimous nudging. But the mere thought of conjuring 15 minutes of graciousness for something meaningless like “comfortable athleisure”—when a disease is devouring human life, exposing the ineptitude of our federal bureaucracy, highlighting the decay of leadership and intelligence, baring the filthy soul of capitalism (particularly in how it plays out for undercompensated essential workers and in for-profit healthcare and journalism)—has me clenching my jaw so hard that the accompanying migraine feels like sweet release.
They say opposites attract, and that’s what I’ve always loved about us. You have always been the softer, kinder, and gentler soul sister, while I, on the other hand, am a hate-fueled rage monkey. A gratitude journal fits into your self-care routine, right alongside those scented soy candles, acoustic sets, and a good spa day. But me? I’m more into scream-crying alone in my parked Honda Accord.
So, while I love you dearly, Marie, and I do appreciate how much you care and want to help, please stop it with the gratitude journal. I am no longer asking you. I am telling you: This is your final warning. One more text and I’m bound to get angry.
And you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.
Yours in spirit,