“So, what happened to your sense of humor?”
“Can you just loosen up a little?”
“I miss the old you.”
“Why do you have to take everything so seriously?”
“It was just a joke.”
“Do you ever leave work mode anymore?”
But I’m happy now, is the thing.
The first time I can remember feeling unsatisfied with my life as it was is actually entirely coincidental with learning to love poetry. There is a Tony Hoagland poem called Reasons to Survive November, and it wasn’t the first poem I loved but it was the first poem I felt, viscerally and as an explanation for feelings I couldn’t yet quantify. There’s a bit toward the end that’s always struck me as incredibly powerful where he talks about “shoving joy into my heart over and over” and I (still) remember reading that for the first time as a senior in high school and realizing that someday, there was going to be more to my life, more maybe than I could even have imagined.
It’s a pretty negative poem (or at least, it comes from a pretty externally negative place) and I identified pretty hard with it during the peak (trough?) of my depression. I don’t anymore. However. I do come back to those lines specifically every so often; historically I wonder when I will begin to live it, but now I think I am. Maybe this is just a long-winded way of saying “haters can hate”? But either way. Haters can hate. And I will shove joy into this tiny little heart over and over until surviving November is not even a question but a fact, unquestioned, and I will live that like a firebrand. And that’s about how this life is gonna go.