It’s Okay That You’re Not Okay

These are extraordinary times. And I don’t say that as a compliment, necessarily — it is not said with Spielbergian awe, but rather, with a kind of bamfoozled dread. As if you came upon a strange hole in the ground full of old-timey baby-dolls. You know, the creepy, haunted ones? You’d say, “That’s extraordinary,” and you wouldn’t mean it in the good way.

You might also say, “That’s fucked up.”

What I’m trying to say is:

These are fucked up times.

Shit’s fucked up. It just is. As I noted yesterday, it’s as if we’re witnessing the ghost of normalcy rather than normalcy itself — it died so fast, it hasn’t yet left this plane of existence, and so it lingers, refusing to be banished until an exorcism finally sends it packing. These are abnormal, bizarre, confounding, dipshitted, batshitted, extraordinarily fucked-up times.

You don’t have to be okay with that.

You probably shouldn’t be okay with that.

More to the point, you also don’t need to do it all. You don’t need to get it all done. You don’t need to clean your house from top to bottom. You don’t need to homeschool your kids into super-geniuses. You don’t need to write King Fucking Lear or discover a new scientific principle. You don’t need to be happy. We’re all in mourning from the death of normalcy. We’re all knocked off balance, like someone just kicked your bike as you were riding it. You ended up in the ditch. We’re all in the ditch with you. It’s okay to just sit here in the ditch for a while and say, “Fuck.” It’s okay to wait before you stretch, before you stand up with a groan and see what’s broken. It’s okay to sit on your couch and gorge on bad TV. It’s okay to read a shitty book. It’s okay to not finish the shitty book. It’s okay to let your kids be kids and just tell them they’re on spring break right now. You don’t need to be an A+ parent, and they don’t need to be A+ kids, and you don’t need to be an A+ spouse. Christ, you don’t even need to be an A+ human. Aim for B, maybe B-, C+, just hold it the fuck together.

Forgive it in yourself and forgive it in those around you, too.

That’s not to say this is the time to let all the rope slip through your fingers. Your kids need food. You need food too, and water. Everybody needs things and this is a crisis — though a weird-feeling slo-mo crisis, as if we’re watching two whales collide underwater, with us between them — but you don’t need to be a hero. You don’t even need to be normal.

You just need to be you, and go with it.

You’re allowed to feel all of what you feel.

Hell, I don’t know what to feel. I keep thinking, YEAH OKAY I’VE BEEN PREPARING FOR THIS MY WHOLE LIFE, TIME TO WRITE A BOOK, A WHOLE BOOK, HERE WE GO, HERE WE FUCKING GO, and then I just sit there and I’m like, hey that’s not happening yet? And I go to eat and it’s mostly just grazing. My kid’s like, “Can I play the Switch?” and I’m like, “Yeah, hell yeah, it’s Spring Break, go hog wild, dude.” I tell him to read a book after, and he does (Percy Jackson, the first book, if you must know), but I’m not running him through the wringer. No math flash cards or quizzes. Life is slower right now, and stranger, and I feel this mad pinball bounce of emotions: I go from panic to dread to a weird kind of giddy elation that has no comprehensible logic to it, and then I land on tired, and then I land on sad, and then I land on gratitude because if all else fails this has at least made me appreciate things more, and then I feel shitty for appreciating things more because this isn’t the time to appreciate anything, is it? Then I feel shitty for feeling shitty like, what is wrong with appreciation? What is wrong with finding joy? Guilt ensues. And a refutation of guilt. And a weird feeling of relief for the earth because I’ve seen photos of dolphins in Italy and I think back to the line I wrote in Wanderers (“Humankind was a disease. The earth was the body. Climate change was the fever. And in that fever, in that rising of global temperature, the earth was able to release new defenses.”) and then I just feel bad for writing that. AITA? Probably.

And so the drunken carousel of wildly-spinning emotions goes on, staffed by octopods, ridden by monkeys, narrated by a short-circuiting robot.

I’m not okay.

I’m not broken.

But I’m definitely, absolutely, unfuckwithably not okay.

And I’m going to let that be okay.

I hope you will, too.

These are weird days, friends. It’d be weird if you weren’t weird about that.

Carry on.

Here is a photo of a flower. Happy spring.