Parable of the Dog and the Bleakness

Posted on October 5, 2010


Today, having spent all morning on the internet doing the things that people who are in bands without booking agents or publicity people have to do if they want to play well-attended shows in cities in which they do not live, I began to feel despondent. This feeling overtakes me whenever I spend an extended period of time online, no matter how necessary the work I’m doing is. I don’t really know what it comes from. Probably the fact that a day spent on email is essentially a day spent talking to people who do not answer. The awareness that they will almost certainly answer in several days doesn’t change this. The facts that my morning coffee is always wearing off around this time and that email is a stiflingly sedentary activity surely do not help.

My reaction when this feeling hits is always the same: I mentally comb over the circumstances of my life in search of some reordering that makes a narrative out of things and makes me feel as if progress is being made. Naturally, this is a waste of time, and only sinks me further, but it’s reflexive. I do it without any awareness. Today, this emotional crash coincided with the dog’s need to pee. So, I summoned the will to put my sneakers on (that this bleakness is so intensely self-perpetuating and inertia-generating makes it that much worse), muttering to my dog about all the things I’ve been swearing I’d do for months, all the things I’m waiting on with crossed fingers, at the mercy of strangers, hoping for grace. We went down the stairs into the slate gray day and she, being a creature of surprising privacy and dignity in such matters, ran away behind some bushes.

When she came back I was still muttering to myself. She walked up and stared at me with big, liquid eyes. I muttered. She barked. I jumped about a foot. Then she bowed, the international canine sign for “now you will play with me”. I ignored her, determined to reason my way out of my fog. She bowed again. Barked again. “Fine!” I yelled, and bolted after her. We spent the next 10 minutes sprinting in circles around the yard. And now, having thought through exactly nothing, I feel fine. She is snoring on the armchair.

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