Time to Outsmart the Funk
Move. Act. Laugh. Love. And The Human Touch.
How much more can you take? I’m asking a serious question. How much more of the insanity can you take before you yourself start to notice that you in fact are also going crazy?
For some of you, it’s a good kind of crazy. Like you've finally quit that job that was making you miserable.
You’ve dropped those “friends” who weren’t really your friends and who didn’t share your values or the kind of world you wanted to live in.
You’ve finally found a way to move to Canada or Portland.
You bought a used cello and have learned to play it — in your 70s!
You’ve finally stopped exercising! — and now you go for a walk every day just for the fun and beauty of it.
People think you’ve gone crazy, but you’re not. You’re just living in your world, the world you always hoped to live in, and it makes others very uncomfortable to see you writing poems instead of answering texts.
What really scares them though is that you’ve figured out that the American Dream is, well, just that — a dream. Not a reality. It finally dawned on you that the wealthy have created a plutocracy and that Russia isn’t the only place with oligarchs. Those who are driving us crazy are the rich bastards who have taken advantage of the pandemic and gobbled up all the real estate, jacked up all the prices, and now hoard all the cash — and they could give a rat’s ass about you or this planet. And the promise they drugged us with — about how “the American Dream is yours for the taking!” — is not just a lie, it’s the shackles around your legs and your neck to keep you from getting anywhere within a million miles of “the good life.”
But what about those of you who understood the evils of latter-day Capitalism years ago, yet with the onset of the Covid Era you have found that just trying to cope has taken the wind out of your sails? Have we all just sorta, somewhat, lost it? Are we all doing our best to hide the fact that each of us maybe slipped into a tiny funk hole two years ago, and since then we have ever so incrementally gotten more down, more alone, more exhausted, more despairing, more mad-as-a-hatter? Is the time in which we live pushing us personally to the brink where, on certain days, we find ourselves not on some existential precipice, but actually clinging to the side of a real cliff — whether it’s the cliff of Democracy, the cliff of our relationships, or the cliff of hanging on to a simple, single memory of the way life used to be — or what we had hoped it would be by now?
What I want to say to you is that we’ve got to pull it together and climb out of whatever rabbit hole Covid pushed us into. We have no choice. And just as strongly as I believe Trump will never set foot in the White House pastry pantry again, I believe you and I and millions of others can come out on the other side of this pandemic with love and redemption and kindness — and better yet, be smarter, funnier, happier, more alive, more creative, more intimate, stronger, faster, cooler, with better haircuts, better scores on Wordle and become the heroes that only we can be. We’ve got this, and if you’d like a brother who never had a brother to be your brother in this return to joy, then I’m here for you. We can start right now.
Here’s five easy things the 677,000 of us reading this can do in the next 48 hours:
1. Watch the most brilliant comedy/satire special of the past year: “Bo Burnham: Inside”. The acclaimed humorist, writer and musician decided to film his year inside his studio backyard apartment where he is completely alone during the pandemic lockdown. That means he’s the sole performer and the entire crew: he’s the director, writer, cameraman, sound engineer, editor, he creates the sets, the lighting, the props — and he writes and sings the entire score. Most of all, he nails it. You will not see a more empathetic, moving, and darkly funny piece of art about this madness in which we’ve been trapped. And you/we need a huge laugh — or 25 of them. It’s on Netflix. And if you don’t have Netflix, you know how to get it. It’s the pandemic! All rules are suspended!
2. Call someone right now whom you haven’t spoken to since before the pandemic and tell them you’ve missed them and you needed to hear their beautiful voice! Don’t worry that you haven't called them in so long. They won’t care. Because you’re calling them right now!
Maybe it’s a beloved Aunt. Maybe it’s a friend for life. Maybe it’s the last friend of your parents who’s still alive. You can’t even imagine the level of happiness you’re going to bring to them. And to you! Don’t overthink this! Do it now!
Me? I’m going to call a long lost friend from Flint. We haven’t spoken in 30 years. I have no idea how it will go but the Coronavirus has made me fearless! Here goes!
3. LAUGH! Laugh right now! You don’t need a funny joke or a banana peel. Just open your mouth right now and let ‘er rip! GO!!!
There is something biologically healing about the simple act of laughing out loud. It shocks the hormones into action — even if you fake it. Just start a random, rockin’ side-splitting laugh. If there’s someone in the room with you their brain will automatically trigger them into spontaneous laughter (or at least the biggest smile they’ve had all day). Try it. Works every time. Do not explain why you are laughing — just keep laughing. This will do loads to relieve your stress, anxiety, depression, blues, you name it. Watch it disappear for a bit and while the dark cloud has momentarily lifted from you, use this moment to get up and do something, anything. Scramble some eggs. Fill the bird feeder. Slip a note under your neighbor’s door. Go for that walk! No one in history has ever gone for a walk and come back more depressed than when they left! You will feel slightly better or at least you’ll be neutralized for the next half hour so you can then do something else!
And, of course, one of the best ways to get the real laughter going naturally is to watch one of your favorite all-time comedy movies. Make your list, watch one tonight then watch one a night for the rest of the week. Here’s my top 8 comedies:
This is Spinal Tap
Life of Brian
There’s Something About Mary
4. Here’s another prescription for relieving the funk you’re in: ACT!
Action is the hormonal antidote when you are sinking low. I know this sounds simple, but especially if you are down in the dumps over the state of the country, then stop reading this and join a political activist group in your town. Call one up and tell them you want to join and “put me to work!”
Here’s links to a few groups that are in most cities:
You and I have to work our asses off between now and November. Anything to do with the Supreme Court reversing Roe v Wade, ending voter suppression, getting the correct candidates elected, etc. Act! Act! Act! Goodbye depression!!
5. The Human Touch. We all need it. For a lot of people, it’s been hard meeting other people during Covid. Sometimes it’s a friend that’s the best one to be with. To hold. To walk hand in hand. To watch that comedy. To write a poem or a song together. To see the sun come up. Watching the paint on your walls when it’s already dry is a waste. If you’re with someone do something different. Go somewhere you’d never go. Lose yourself.
I’ll leave you with a couple songs that might cheer you up.
“Passionate Kisses” by Mary Chapin Carpenter
“Trumpets” by Jason Derulo
Until next week, let’s try to feel a bit better. It’s worth it.
This message brought me to tears, dear Michael. I felt seen. And I loved your suggestions--I'm on it! Much love to you.
What a great way to wake up. Thank you, as always, Michael.