I am typing this quickly because it sounds like naptime is coming to an end prematurely. It is 24 degrees here, so I left Ellie’s bedroom window open to see if she could sleep through neighbourhood sounds, and it seems as though that experiment is a failure, although it is possible she just wants to get up so she can resume chasing the cats while shrieking “KITTY!” at the top of her lungs. This is an activity the cats are unenthusiastic about, as you can imagine. Thankfully, Ellie is enthusiastic enough about it to more than make up for their disinterest.
I was suffused with ennui last week, as one tends to get toward the end of winter, and I was also suffused with annoyance, as one tends to get when no one else in the world ever does anything that makes any SENSE, and I came to the same conclusion I come to every time I am in one of those moods: telling someone who is upset about something to “relax” or “calm down” is pretty much the most obnoxious thing you can say in that situation. Saying either of these things is wilfully assuming the risk of that person responding with a swift kick to the posterior region while yelling “NO YOU JUST RELAX!” Obviously it is preferable to exist in a state of constant relaxation, and the non-relaxed person would do that if he or she COULD. Some people are just suffering from Seasonal Ennui and find themselves feeling a little feistier than usual.
Related to my ennui as well as to societal encouragement to “just relax” is the “everyone just needs to do what is right for him/herself and/or his/her family” sentiment that seems to permeate everything these days, and its repercussions on general quality of life. On the one hand, it is GOOD that we have this freedom, and that everyone is defending everyone else’s right to exercise these freedoms, and it makes for a much more interesting world if we have differences of opinion and we implement those differences of opinion in non-destructive ways. On the other hand, I feel like we have gone too far overboard with this in a way that makes it no longer necessary to have any personal accountability to the community at large, where the onus isn’t on an individual to be considerate of the other people with whom they interact, but rather on the person on the receiving end to be tolerant and non-judgmental. Obviously I’m not talking here about minor things (like whether your kid watches TV, which actually IS a personal decision that doesn’t affect anyone else) or major things (like bigotry or violent crime , which are so obviously wrong there should be no debate about them), but more the sorts of things that run in the middle, the things people tend to justify by saying “It’s my right to do (whatever)” or “Freedom of speech means I can say (whatever) and you can’t get mad or hurt” or “I’m entitled to my opinion about (whatever) even though it’s firmly based on science or ideology that has long since been widely discredited”. Some things actually ARE offensive and it is not just okay, but right and good to be offended by them … and so it is unfortunate that you can’t work up a good snit about them without being told to just relax.
Every time someone says something mean on the internet because they seem to think that doesn’t count, or any time someone runs a red light in spite of the fact they may kill someone else with their shortsightedness and/or self-centredness, I get all worked up. It’s not productive, but I can’t stop it. I want people to JUST BE NICE without any intervention by anyone else, but this has not magically transpired through the power of me wishing for it. (If I could just conjure up something with the power of my mind, there would be cheesecake in my house right now. And my house would be in Hawaii.) There doesn’t seem to be a good solution to this problem, either, because holding people to what seem to be impossibly high standards but what should really be the minimum expectations for community participation is exhausting, but the idea of lowering my expectations is depressing. Hence the ennui.
The fog of grumpiness (I initially wrote “fog of crabbiness” which made me think “Fog of Crab” would be a great name for a band or a coastal seafood restaurant) seems to be lifting, though, because it is, as I mentioned above, 24 degrees here, which is record-breaking warmth for this time of year. I feel this way every year when spring hits, but it truly is remarkable how much a little bit of sunshine can do to improve my general outlook on life. Vitamin D is pouring down from the sky, the windows are open, and there are little bitty green things here and there. Perhaps most importantly, the baby has been wearing shorts! I defy you to find something cuter than a baby in shorts. Ennui is powerless in the face of BABY SHORTS.