I actually managed to get to bed yesterday at about 4:00 AM. Okay, it’s not really that early, but considering that I’ve been sleeping through most of the day for the past week or so, this was a welcome change. I woke up at about 5:30, however, and was unable to return to any peaceful rest, be it sleep or just laying in bed. By six, too much light was peeking through my small apartment’s shades that I knew I could no longer get sleep. Besides, I had some errands that needed running since I’d been putting them off somewhat and if I did manage to get to sleep then, it would ruin my whole day.
I went to my computer and surfed the web for a while, checked to see who was online, read some email, looked over some of my freelance work for a few clients and began planning my day. While online, I came across something personally disturbing and was briefly unsettled, to say the least. It was 7:50 AM now, and being at home while the sun rose for another day â€” unsettled, no less â€” was sure to put me in a bad mood.
That’s when I remembered my rollerblades
I had found them in the trash several years ago and they were just my size. Now they were under my bed, unused for God know’s how long. I put on some clothes, strapped them (and my wrist-guards) on, and went out to the Hudson River bike path. Spent the better part of an hour rollerblading downtown and then back up home. Worked up a nice sweat, got my legs pleasantly aching, and really got my heart pumping. Not because I was exerting much energy, mind you, but because I’m horribly out of shape despite being skinny. Rollerblading felt really good.
Best of all, the exercise helped get my mind off what was troubling me. I tend to be the type of person to brood over upsetting thoughts. I bet you know someone like me if you aren’t similar yourself. We get upset about something, and then no matter what we do we can’t get our minds off the troubling thoughts. They keep returning like plagues, and different things trigger them. This lasts for hours, or days, and like plagues, they bring new waves of anger or sadness with each trigger. Hell, sometimes I think about these sorts of things on purpose, perfectly aware that it’s only going to upset me but for some reason powerless to stop myself.
Not that thinking troubling things is altogether unhelpful. There are certainly times when thinking about such things help to avoid such situations in the future. But useless, unproductive brooding never helped anything. In fact, I had just read about this last week in Goleman’s book, Emotional Intelligence. I wonder why that didn’t occur to me until just now. (Or perhaps it had, and that’s why I went skating.)
When I got home, sweating in the sweltering heat of my apartment, I took a refreshing cold shower, sorted my laundry, collected some money I had been meaning to deposit in the bank, and headed out. I deposited my money in the local bank branch and then crossed the street to a CafÃ© I enjoy. The first time I had been there was the day of my flight with Danica to San Francisco. Not only is the food good, but they have a wonderful selection of classical music which they play softly. It is such a welcome change from all that crap hip-hop you hear in most places. While I ate, it began to rain outside. Not heavily. Just enough to cleanse the air and provide a nice relief from the heat.
I was glad that it was still raining when I finished eating.
Walking in the rain felt revitilizing. It had gotten a little cloudy, but that didn’t bother me much. I made my way to the supermarket and picked up a couple of essentials. On the way home, I thought about how I need to clean the tub. Danica likes a clean bath tub, and she asked me to clean it two nights ago before she got home. Later today, a handyman is coming over to install a new sink cabinet in our bathroom and snake out our drains. These were also things Danica had asked me to take care of before she returned. Yesterday, my father graciously helped me put up another shelf in our apartment and hang a lamp from the high cieling. I thought to myself that I should also clean the stove, do the dishes, sweep the floor, clear out some of the mess at home, organize my papers, and generally tidy up the place. It will take some doing, but it isn’t an unreachable goal.
Getting these errands completed is certainly nice, but my stronger motivation is fulfilling Danica’s requests.
There is an awesome satisfaction in accomplishing these simple tasks for myself, but there is also an additional feeling of reward in knowing that I have accomplished them at Danica’s request, and that she will be happy to see that I have done them for her. It is partly so striking this morning because of the nature of what upset me earlier. But it is clear that, regardless of any other additional influences, this carries with it its own complete sense of fulfillment.
I suspect that a great deal of my good-feelings now are a direct result of that rollerblading exercise I did some hours ago. In accordance with that suspicion, I have left my rollerblades at the door, very visible, to remind me to rollerblade as often as I possibly can. I feel good, I am productive, and sooner or later those things will help increase my level of fitness. Plus, they’re damn fun. There’s no reason not to use them, and there’s no reason to brood over bad thoughts any more than necessary to understand them. The one thing I’ll do which I haven’t yet had a chance to is talk to a friend about it, but writing this has certainly helped too. (I know, I didn’t go into any detail about the upsetting thing; that is not the thrust of this entry anyway.)
So my lesson of the day is that exercise is good, and has the added benefit of being something that really kicks me out of bad moods. Yet more ammo added to my arsenal of emotional intelligence. Thank you, Dr. Goleman. Oh, and thank you, too, Danica. :) Please ask more of me from time to time. I truly enjoy it.