Did you know, that if you dance (with mild to moderate exuberance) to Arcade Fire’s ‘Here comes the Night Time’, that you can accrue 750 steps on your Fitbit, AND feel much sprightlier than you do before? Well, you know now, and if there’s ever been a time to boost the endorphins then this might be it. I’ll tell you how I came by this statistic. In the dark gloom of December, I trotted into Kaffe O for a latte and spoke to my favourite barista. She’s always smiley, radiating bonhomie, even when there’s a long queue. She manages this without ever being annoying, which is how I find most excessively positive people. ‘Tell me,’ I asked her. ‘How do you stay so upbeat?’ She puts it down to starting the day with yoga followed by a spot of dancing. Every. Single. Morning. I found this astounding, especially since she often has to wake at 5.30 if she has to open the shop. The very thought of that gives me the dry bokes. Dawn, in winter. I’d say there’s not a bit of need for it but then we all need coffee. ‘I’m going to take to the dancing,’ I told her, but if course I didn’t.
Fast forward three months and f**k me, but if I ever needed cheering up it’s been March 22. Everyone had Covid, bar me, so I still had to go to work. School was relentless. I had writing deadlines due, and then the cat started taking a shite in the living room again, just for kicks. Yep, I was floundering.
Inevitably, I wasn’t looking after myself either, rushing hither and thither, fuelled on caffeine and caramel squares, lashing the merlot into myself of an evening when all was dank and bleak. My work clothes were becoming as strained as my temper. I finally thought the barista might be onto something, and I roused my groggy self to get up early and cavort about a bit. Turns out, if the tunes are good enough, you can get into it rightly. It felt like a small win to be heading to work with over 1000 steps done, and the cheery thought that for four and a half minutes I had shut everything else out and danced in the kitchen. In an effort to improve my saggy arms I even danced with a 400g tin of butter beans in one hand and tinned pear halves in the other. LSB wondered if I was planning an odd sort of breakfast when he came down to put the coffee on. ‘Nope,’ says I, ‘it was just for the dancing.’ He nodded and said nothing, (sometimes that’s for the best).
Dancing isn’t going to solve the war in Ukraine, or help you wade mark coursework. It won’t magic away your anxiety, but it will give you a boost. But even in the midst of upheaval it you can find fleeting moments of joy. Recently I turned to Anne Lamott again, as I do when I need encouragement. I also reached out to a very wise and kind friends. Their advice was the same; havng a genuine interest in helping others, whether by making donations or volunteering will help you grapple your way out of the mire. That all sounds very righteous, and I don’t mean it to. But you can’t help anyone or be there for your family if you feel rotten.
Courtney Barnett sings, I’m having trouble breathing in,’ which sounds like the anthem of our times. But if you starve yourself of joy, as I was doing, it does no one any good. LSB was sick looking at me going about, with all the zest and vigour of a constipated goat. He did, in a fit of optimism, reference a certain survey I was talking about with Frank a couple of weeks ago, that suggested ‘getting intimate’ five times a week in a bit to keep stress levels down and relationships afloat. Bless him; it’s good to dream.