The View From April

“March is the month God created to show people who don’t drink what a hangover is like.”
Garrison Keillor

“Thank God that’s over.”
Terri Schrader

I hate March. I have tried not to hate March because it seems juvenile to arbitrarily hate 1/12th of the year, but I think that my hatred of March started in my juvenile years so maybe it’s a nostalgic sort of hate. March is a tease. It will throw in the occasional sunny, balmy sort of day where you can remember how magical it is to walk outside without a jacket. You’ll feel the sun on your arms, and the birds will sing and you will experience euphoria. Then the next day, you’ll see sun out the window and walk outside without your jacket only to realize that it’s six degrees, and you’re going to develop frostbite. One of the ways I cope with March is to take a trip.

I love travel because it forces me out of my head and into the real world, and I am always trying to find a way to ruminate less. I just read a quote by Buddha or Fred Flintstone or somebody---I forget who said it. I also forget exactly what they said, but the gist of it was that worry is living in the past and anxiety is living in the future, so the only way to be at peace is to live in the present. First of all, I think anxiety and worry overlap a lot and I can’t speak for all neurotics, but for me, anxiety and worry are BOTH about the future. Secondly, I understand the logic of living in the moment, but you know who is really great at living in the moment? Toddlers. Very tiny people do not worry about the future or the past. This doesn’t seem to make life wonderful for them, in fact I think it makes them pretty damn unhappy sometimes. They cannot comprehend the future, so for them, if you are not giving them ice cream right now then there is no ice cream, and everything is awful, and they are going to try to strangle you. Toddlers don’t give a crap about having ice cream after dinner. That would be like me telling you that you can have coffee as soon as we colonize Mars.

So even though I’m not totally sold that living in the present is the key to happiness, I do recognize its value and being in a new place really puts you in the moment. Of course, sometimes unpleasant things happen when you travel, and you’re a little more vulnerable because you can only be in the moment. You are not at home where you have coping mechanisms in place, like dogs or Netflix. I was walking down King Street in Charleston with my 17 year old son, and we passed by a dude who looked maybe a little rough but not necessarily homeless. When we were right in front of him, he yelled, “I’m gonna kick his bearded ass!” He seemed like he was talking to us, and yet we had missed the first part of the conversation, so we didn’t know how to respond. I wanted to ask him about the syntax of his exclamation, but mostly I was just grateful that my son doesn’t have a beard. It wasn’t a happy moment, but we were totally in it.

Happy April!

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