No Outlet

6:00 am.


I really should get out of bed, but the thought of starting my day is overwhelming.


It’s Sunday. Should I go to church?


Of course, I should go.


My anxiety ratchets up. I am paralyzed.


My wife usually helps me focus, but she’s been gone since Thursday. She’s at a family reunion in Tennessee. I can do whatever I want.


I stay in bed.




I really should go to church. I sing in the choir. I’m a part of a caring community. They’ll miss me. I’ll miss them. I need their spiritual support now more than ever, but the thought of being in a confined space, facing the expectations of others, the pressure of remembering words to songs, people’s names…


I should go. I really should. I just need something to wear.


The closet.


Geez Jackie, you promised we’d share this 50/50, but your stuff is creeping WAY into my space.


Doesn’t matter. I have nothing to wear. It’s hot and muggy and I’ll be damned if I’m going to put on a long sleeve dress shirt just to look nice.


I have so few summer dress shirts.




Here’s one.


Yes, this will do just fine.


I'm dressed.


I'm ready.


One last glance in the mirror.


Are you kidding me? What’s this? There are threads hanging off the sleeve of my shirt! In fact, the entire hem is frayed.


How could I NOT have noticed this?


I need more clothes.


It’s my day off. Maybe instead of going to church, I should pick up a few shirts.




I’m not going to church, and I’m not shopping for shirts.


My dusty piano.


I used to play it for hours.


Now, I can’t remember a single song.


I can’t remember songs because I don’t practice.


I don’t practice because I don’t like to perform.


I don’t perform because I get debilitating performance anxiety that makes playing the piano a nightmare.


I figure, if I’m not going to play for other people, why do it? Playing for myself makes me frustrated. It takes me forever to learn a new song. By the time I do, I’m bored with it.


I could write.


I promised myself that will be my solo ambition now, so I really should write.




I suck at writing. I suck at everything.


Last week, I looked forward to going to church. I had fun singing in the choir. I talked about practicing the piano. I felt good about writing.


Today, every ambition – a delusion.


I search the map of my mind.


On every corner, a sign.


No Outlet.


I anguish about staying home. I feel I owe people an explanation for not being able to fulfill my responsibilities. I need approval. I need to know others are in complete agreement I’m making the right decision.  Otherwise, I’m making excuses.


People who make excuses are slackers.


They let down the team.


They are a disappointment.


Mental illness?


That’s bullshit.


Everyone is a victim.


Bipolar? ADHD? Depression?


Excuses. Buck up. Get your ass out of bed. Be responsible.


You know what?




Walk a mile in my shoes, then tell me about excuses. I’m 54 years old now and don’t care what you think. I don’t owe you an explanation. I’m not feeling well. That’s all you need to know. In my right mind, I  give 110%, SO STEP OFF!


A gap in the blinds.




This has been an unusually dreary summer. I can’t remember the last time we’ve had more than two days of sunshine in a row. I need the sun. The sun is life.


A decision.


I’ll ride my bike.


I’ll ride my bicycle until the sweat starts pouring off me. Until my arms are sunburned. Until my heart beats fast enough to put me in “the zone.”


In the zone, I have few thoughts. I find peace.


In the zone, there is medicine for my soul.


Finally, a decision.


The sun. So glorious.


Life. So short.


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