Woke up two hours later than I wanted to. The symptoms were relatively mild but heavy on my mind. Canceled all the things and waited to test until sicker I guess or maybe just until later. Hung out in the  embarrassment of canceling the things — do I honestly feel that bad? This is gonna inconvenience some folks, can’t I suck it up? Worked myself to the absolution of accountability if not all the way to the absolution of shame.

Had this year’s first longing for Christmas only two days after putting last Christmas away. Already feeling the light and the goodwill toward all slipping. Yesterday, on The Saddest Day, it was 342 days until Christmas. Today it is 341. Turned on the retro multicolor teardrop Christmas lights we leave up all year long.

The house is cleaner than it’s been in the six years we’ve lived here due to a fervent semester-break purification. Sat on the new-to-us loveseat for a lot of the day. Zoomed into a meeting that made me weep alligator tears of gratitude and excitement. Worked on an art project and pet a dog. Sent email, did math homework, researched grants. Made miso squash soup. Allowed myself short and sporadic rafts of unproductive sitting time. Read an achingly beautiful book in front of the SAD lamp. Dutifully took the new-to-my-regimen vitamins that have breathed a solid 15% more life into my life. Took an evening walk under the cloud-masked full moon — slowly over craggy ice — to drop something in a friend’s mailbox. 

On The Saddest Day of the year I was sick with what could be either a seasonal nuisance or the death of me. On The Saddest Day of the year I was awed at every little thing that kept me going.

Ten years ago I would’ve stayed in bed — for a day or two or three or more — and the resulting offshoots of shame and depression would have spiraled throughout the following month(s), choking me into underfunctioning and inertia. But in the time since then I’ve gone to therapy (and therapy and therapy), incorporated daily creative practice, meditated a whole bunch of hours, gotten serious about advocating for my own health because who’s going to do it if I don’t, and grown supportive and reciprocal relationships. Those changes have happened in stardust epiphanies and in the swimming through molasses that is small changes on the regular, but each change, however small, helped to buttress everything that came after, in true Dr. Leo Marvin-style.

My therapist recently said to me, “If you wanna be praying when the plane goes down you better have taught yourself to pray beforehand.” I’m not so much the praying type but I do practice awe that the accumulation of these habits, along with heaping portions of privilege and luck, means I’m still here to write about this year’s Saddest Day. No sooner do I say, “In this moment I am here,” than I am in the next moment. I have survived that moment and created a future moment in which I am still here and safe and also grateful. Baby steps.