Stop the World — I Want to Get Off (Just Keep Digging).


Buried. I’m more than a little embarrassed to admit that I think I may have hit my breaking point.  Chagrined about it, really.  A nice little dollop of shame in there, too. Because I know damned well that many people have it way worse.  They have been wallowing in the vicinity of their own breaking point — feeling buried — for days, weeks, months, years, maybe even generations.  And only now I have the nerve to hop on the bus to Overwhelmed City? The bus is jammed already.  Standing room only.  So let’s say that I’m shoulder to shoulder with gaggles of fellow suffering travelers, being jostled about by one pothole after another. Fighting back nausea.  I am not at all prone to motion sickness, so this feeling is new.  

I want off.

There’s just too much going on.  All at once.  And it isn’t letting up. So my personal water table simply cannot return to some semblance of equilibrium. I’m full up.  Emotionally flooded.  This blog helps, though cataloguing my own parade of horribles seems both self-defeating and self-centered.  Still, I write.  

Let’s start with the macro — world affairs.  I’m getting pummeled by a nonstop barrage of the ridiculous and irrational words and actions of our new President.  It’s like a mad, insane sprint in tight circles spiraling around and down the toilet bowl.  I can’t handle the accelerating g-forces. I can’t stay on top of the latest nonsense, so that I might formulate intelligent opinions and competently explain things to my inquisitive kids. Try to help them makes sense of this new world order. I am reduced to cranky grunts and curse words, particularly if my morning coffee hasn’t yet taken root. I am at a loss.  

As for the micro: Our little neighborhood bubble of safety suddenly feels not so safe.  My outdoor Nest camera footage suggests that maybe the bubble never was safe:  Seemingly  upstanding citizens walking briskly down my block, then veering towards my flat’s stoop. Then rifling through my short stack of mail in the middle of the day. Presumably hoping for something good to steal. Post-midnight sketchy visitors, peering into my parked family car’s interior, aided in their search by the throw of my my so-called security spotlights.  And the hyperlocal criminal goings on reported to me daily by the NextDoor app — it feels like I’m suddenly raising my family in a war zone. 

My kids’ school situations are less-than-ideal.  Maybe that’s the new norm, and just the way it is.  But I only have the two sons, so “ideal” is what I’m shooting for.  Not in a helicopter parent way, mind you.  The opposite.  I want to trust that my kids are in safe, nurturing environments when out of my sight. Let the enlightened and ambitious educators and administrators do their thing. This is my default setting.  But alas, that is not always how things have worked out.  And it’s not always the schools’ fault.  I fear that mean or unkind kids are begotten of mean or unkind or long-ago-gave-up parents are begotten of a world that is moving too fast and rattling loose too many moral compasses. “True North” may actually be scattershot.  Imaginary.  Mythical. We’re all pointing in different directions.  I’d like to think I know where True North is, but with so many others’ fingers extended, jabbing all over the place, how can I be sure?

And then there’s the getting older thing.  I’m pushing towards 50, and honestly, way more serious about taking care of myself than my 21 year-old self would ever have anticipated.  I exercise a ton, eat right.  Sleep for 8 or 9 hours every night. I meditate.  I meditate about exercising, eating and sleeping.  I meditate about meditating. Yet now I find out that my LDL cholesterol is high enough to warrant artery scraping drugs.  Pills of Drano, more or less. Really? Maybe I should have been gorging on deep fried Twinkies all those years. Why not?

More broadly, all families, it seems, face the ugliness of things like cancer.  Our extended family is no different, though it feels like a singular experience.  And just recently, some of my oldest and dearest friends and their families have suddenly been forced to grapple with the fleeting nature of their own health and mortality. Given all this, who the hell am I to gripe about the prospect of taking a pill to lower my cholesterol? What the hell is wrong with me that I have been taking for granted my own family, as well as my friends and their families, for so long? How dare I obsess so much about my own situation in the face of others’ who are climbing mountains far steeper than mine?

So what’s the answer?  What to do?  What can I do in the face of all this?

I am uncertain.  I can’t seem to conjure up any of the usual guiding principles that can be counted on to lift my spirits as I typically approach this concluding section of my blog posts. Having a bit of a hard time finding the bright side, quite honestly.  

But I suspect there may be something to the iPhone photo at the top, captured quickly in Lake Tahoe a couple days back:  I think I’m just gonna pick up this here shovel and dig.  It feels like something I can control, though I recognize no actual progress may be made.  And hopefully I will be strong enough to push through the back aches and heart aches. (No guarantees with these awesome LDL numbers of mine, by the way.)  But I’m just gonna keep digging. 

Thanks for reading. 


  1. It’s not easy is it? I have an awful start to the year I won’t bore you with it,but for me I fix a smile on my face and try very hard to do my best . I am sending you a hug to say hey you are doing well .

  2. Wow. Our lives seem so alike in a number of ways. I do understand the struggles dealing with the drastic changes in the moral compass; dealing with growing older; and even though my children are young adults I cannot help but worry as if the are still in middle school. I am also digging my way through. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I find substance abuse to be pretty ideal during times of duress. You see, by digging lower and hitting rock bottom, you can then look up and go somewhere. Also, at 50, you can use the “back in my day” excuse when experimenting with substances. For some good literature concerning substance abuse and hitting rock bottom, I would suggest some early Palahunick, “Invisible Monsters” and “Fight Club”. Good luck with the dig.

  4. First off, your writing is gorgeous. You have a real talent. Secondly, all these thoughts you’re having are what make you human and a parent. You are not alone. You are not the first and you are not the last. Everyone is here on earth to be a support to everyone else. Those days when you feel like giving up (and I know exactly how that feels a little too well) just remember that where you’re going and the things you build for yourself are always bigger than your setbacks. You can only be stronger once you finish climbing that mountain. Just stay positive (I know it’s hard) and things will turn out for the better

  5. “I think I’m just gonna pick up this here shovel and dig.  It feels like something I can control, though I recognize no actual progress may be made.  And hopefully I will be strong enough to push through the back aches and heart aches.” Brilliant. Just brilliant.

    Thanks for sharing. Hoping that you are indeed pushing through, and that you will find what you are digging for.

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