Off on the Wrong Start

Our mental state plays an important part in writing our best. Irritability has no place in a writer’s life.

I not only woke up one morning on the wrong side of the bed, but on the other side of the room. In fact, on the other side of the house, next to the side door where the spiders and sow bugs and beetles patiently wait to stampede outside, first thing.

I need quality sleep at night like a tortoise needs its shell…or else I spend most of the day doing a fine impersonation of an unpleasant person. Last night, I didn’t get my required amount.

In the morning, I yelled at my mother, yelled at my husband who had the audacity to ask why I acted “low key,” (my apologies to both), but thankfully, I spared the children. A bowling ball had replaced my head, sitting wobbly and heavy between my shoulders. It didn’t help my cause when the day’s temperature soared to an undignified 100 degrees.

I puttered around the house in a sort of brain fog. Oh, I know that’s now a recognized medical state and describes a mind hindered by stress, anxiety or worry. Confusion or forgetfulness characterize brain fog. My state was different. It was more of a lightweight madness where tiny, virtually nonexistent obstacles seemed magnified. Mine was more like brain smog; useless, frustrated, blurry thoughts cluttered my mind, leaving no room for any light or fresh air to seep in.

The best cure for such a turbulent state or for depression, fear, stupidity or practically any unsteady frame of mind is to try doing something for someone else. Take the focus off yourself. Which is why I decided to go out among the public.

Since I am a sporadic library volunteer, this was the perfect opportunity to assist the denizens of almost all things literary, and hopefully jump-start my mood into something better and more promising.

I went. I helped. I conquered. I stayed longer than usual and didn’t leave until I heard voices. The voices of an eight-year-old girl and her grandma.

Grandma asked me where books should be returned. I showed her. She dropped them in. Girl hollered that she needed the books, and Granny made a big mistake in returning them. At one end, Grandma kept telling me, “Don’t listen to her,” and at the other, the girl insisted that she needed to keep them a little longer for a book club report at the library. This went on for quite some time. Grandma and Girl might as well have been in two different buildings. No communication took place at all. This is a cozy library. Pleasantly plump people cannot squeeze past each other in the aisles.

The girl was right. She gave her report, the books were returned and peace was restored.

After they left, one of the librarians whispered to me, “Have you ever felt like grabbing a kid by her ear and pulling her outside?”

I realized then that the frustrated voices I heard merely echoed my own. “I think the little girl was feeling a little overwhelmed and underheard, that’s all. I’m sure this was not her usual behavior.”

One set of thoughts always drives the other out. Of course, there are people that don’t harbor thoughts, but I know, my dear readers do. By changing direction and attempting to help others, anyone can, in effect, stamp out less desirable states of mind and, in my case, forget about sleep deprivation. Okay, so I wasn’t exactly the most proficient volunteer. I didn’t always shelve the books in perfect alphabetical order, but I caught my mistakes and corrected them.

Don’t allow your mind to accommodate anything less than the best thoughts. For your sake, the sake of those that cross your path and for the sake of doing the very best writing.

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Keith D E Walker
Keith D E Walker
8 years ago

Great thought and said very well.

8 years ago

Thank you! I always learn something from your blogs.

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