Rising Up Out of the Mental Muck

Snow capping the forested, dark green mountains veined with Aspen gold delights the eye, but the rain and wind on the Valley floor remind me that winter is coming, and I am not ready!


The Sangre de Cristo Mountains got their first snow about a week ago, and the snowfall was a good month too early for me. The Valley floor is sodden and the wind brisk.

Cold weather plus bad news is just too much. Which bad news? The mass shooting in Las Vegas or… there is a lot to choose from… the list is too long. And yet, I am so far removed from the reality of the news. Shopping in the local grocery the other day, I found myself complaining about the shorter days and the longer nights. And as my whine wound down, I felt the heat of embarrassment.


How dare I complain about the weather when the world-at-large is such a mess!! Why am I/why are we so removed? Unless we are personally suffering from a natural or unnatural disaster… we (buffered by our computers and handheld devices) sit all comfy on our couches some distance from the pain. And the pain that we experience sitting on the couch is easily fixed by just adding a cushion or two.


We live cocooned lives swathed in eiderdown with a hot cup of tea or coffee at-hand. At most we sigh. Or rant. Or block out disturbing news by binging on three or four episodes of a favorite TV series. A ‘restorative’ glass of wine helps dull the pain. Chocolate does also. I’m also into ‘food porn.’ My favorite site is https://www.nytimes.com/newsletters/cooking. Sam Sifton, the NYTimes food editor, writes a chatty introduction and follows up with recipes. Reading the recipes is almost as satisfying as eating the food he writes about. Almost.



The only constant is change.


Sam (I know him pretty well at this point so I feel I can refer to him by his first name) sends out a newsletter two or three times a week, and his commentary never fails to lift my spirits. Quoting the first paragraph of today’s newsletter, Sam writes:



Good morning. Go look at the birds today, if you can. They might be over by the highway, getting into formation for the long run to warmer air. They might be out on the harbor, picking off the surface as bass and bluefish crash beneath them, fueling up for their own migration south. The geese are beginning to move on the ponds, as are the ducks, the mute swans with their grunts and hisses. For all the terrible news this morning, for all the heartbreak and terror this is still, as Robert McClosky put it, a time of wonder, a time of change. The temperature may be summery where you hang your hat, but the birds know the score.




I’m feeling better. Maybe I’m not as depressed as I first thought.  I go to Roget’s Thesaurus… a forty-year-old, well-thumbed, paperback. I haven’t written in weeks. Why is that? Maybe ‘depressed’ isn’t the best word choice. I look up ‘sad.’ A dozen synonyms are at-hand: sorrowful, downcast, dejected, unhappy, woeful, woebegone, depressed, disconsolate, melancholy, gloomy, cheerless, somber, dismal, heavy-hearted, and blue.

DSCN6087The choices run the gamut from dark to lighter. I’m not unhappy or heavy-hearted; I guess I’m melancholy or blue. Have you noticed that naming your condition, putting it under a microscope, looking at the issue in depth makes everything better? I’m feeling better already.

This month’s assignment from the Salida based Shavano Poets is to write a poem that riffs off a compound word. I’m quite excited: the word ‘downcast’ may be a possibility… or what about ‘woebegone’? I like woebegone a lot. After not writing for over a month, I just may run with woebegone and see where it takes me.

Immersion in the written word is my medicine. Reading (I’m re-reading E.M. Forster’s WHERE ANGELS FEAR TO TREAD) or Sam Sifton’s introduction, or… putting words to paper myself is the wind beneath my wings.

I don’t want to live in a bubble, but I need to step out of the muck and rise above it if I am going to be productive and pro-active.


About timeout2

I have lived 100 lives. I write essays, short stories, poetry, grocery lists and notes to myself. If I am ever lost, look for a paper trail, but be careful not to trip over any books that lie scattered here and there. I am a reader. I am a reader in awe of writers. When I don't live in Westcliffe, Colorado, I live in London where I am a long-time member of Word-for-Word - Crouch End.
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14 Responses to Rising Up Out of the Mental Muck

  1. Dianne says:

    Yes, and you caught that beautiful Painted Lady!

  2. monica says:

    It’s so hard not to be sad or angry but we have to try

    • timeout2 says:

      Mark often refers to an old spiritual, RISE ABOVE IT… LEAVE YOUR EARTHLY CARES BEHIND. I’ve looked for the music but have yet to find it. If I knew the lyrics and the melody, I/we could sing it from time to time.

  3. Renee Tobin says:

    Yes. Have been enjoying Sifton myself!

    • timeout2 says:

      I really like Sifton’s newsletters and his take on the recipes. Too many recipes and not enough time. If the two of us could get together, I bet we’d have enough recipes to open a restaurant and have a different menu every day of the year.

  4. Bar Scott says:

    I’m right with you, Doris. Tried to decide on a word for my feelings this morning and depressed was all I could come up with. I wonder if I’m bi-polar like my friend Chaz suggests I am. I don’t think so, but the news of the world brings on more lows and a sense of imbalance more regularly than ever before. Like you, I feel like the best choice is to go within or be reclusive at least until I feel well enough to show my face.

    B >

    • timeout2 says:

      You are not bi-polar. Not that I’m a believer in horoscopes, I sometimes wonder if my being born in July, symbolized by the crab, is more than smoke and mirrors.

  5. James says:

    I think you should go with woebegone; great complex word; and I’d like to see what you come up with….woebegone and don’t you come back no more, no more!

    • timeout2 says:

      WOEBEGONE is it. My first draft is lacking something. I need to start again. I love your added lyrics “and don’t you come back no more no more.” Thank you for the prompt, James.

  6. Maria Weber says:

    You’re my kind of girl. Thanks for expressing how I’m feeling too. But may not get the poem written.

    • timeout2 says:

      My WOEBEGONE poem is moving along – playing with it twice a day. We’ll see. Will see you on Thursday – coming with Lucia and Deb Upton. Joyce has a meeting and Wayne is trying to get a leg up before he and his wife-to-be take off for Okinawa.

  7. Jennie Ensor says:

    Wobegone is a wonderfully odd word that seems to be the opposite of what it means.

    Know what you mean about fed upness with mess of world. And trying to switch it off with books TV etc. Nature & writing are better ways though. Plus singing in my case

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