In My Humble Opinion

Look for the silver lining

By JONATHAN CHARLES FOX
Posted 6/17/20

If this is the “new normal,” I am not a big fan. It’s impossible to avoid the P-word since the world has “gone to hell in a hand-basket,” as dear old mom would say. Not …

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In My Humble Opinion

Look for the silver lining

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If this is the “new normal,” I am not a big fan. It’s impossible to avoid the P-word since the world has “gone to hell in a hand-basket,” as dear old mom would say. Not only that, but it would also be irresponsible to be uninformed, blithely ignoring the harsh realities of the current landscape that has shaken (most of) us to the core.

 Based on my physician’s orders and feeling weirdly paranoid to boot, I’ve pretty much cocooned myself at home—aka Camp Fox. There have been days, and now weeks, that I’ve felt restless, out of sorts, angry, cranky and just-plain-miserable to be around. Fortunately for all of you, being around me is strictly off-limits, so… you’re welcome!

Being a professional neurotic does have its perks, however, and one of them is having a shrink (Dr. X) at my beck and call. I don’t want to say that I take advantage of my therapist’s generous spirit—he has always made himself available to me—but lately, I’ve taken to video-conferencing with him far more frequently, sometimes suddenly and without warning.

To the best of my knowledge, Dr. X has never avoided my calls and he patiently allows me to vent, occasionally interjecting with annoying shrink-speak responses like “How does that make you feel,” “Why do you think that is” and the super-irritating “go on.”

I like the guy, I really do, and out of all of my therapists (there have been a few) either this man gets me more than his predecessors, or I have (gasp!) possibly matured and learned a thing or two along the way.

 “I can’t do this anymore!” I wailed at him over the weekend, having called in the middle of the night, undoubtedly waking him up. “I’m losing my mind over this lockdown, and it’s your job,” I yelled angrily, “to fix me. Okay, go.”

“You know that I can’t ‘fix’ you,” Dr. X explained. “But I am here for you and to help in any way that I can.” He asked a few questions in his typical soothing voice that grates on my nerves and makes me want to scream.

“Let’s look for the silver lining in the situation,” he suggested, aggravating me even further, “and seek to embrace” (his favorite freakin’ word) “what’s happening. Now then,” he murmured, “how does that make you feel?”

“What’s to embrace?” I asked sullenly. “I can’t go out, my dog is sick of looking at me and, on the rare occasion that I do run an errand, I get creeped out by seeing people wearing masks, or incredibly angry by seeing others who aren’t.”

“Go on,” he suggested. “Oh, by the way… How was the weather today?”

 “Gorgeous,” I replied without hesitation. “It was absolutely gorgeous. I took Dharma for a walk around the neighborhood, and we had dinner outside. I made a fire and listened to music, which I rarely get to do. Wait… what?”

“Sounds nice,” he said. “You know, being in the city,” (Dr. X resides in Manhattan) “isn’t exactly a walk in the park these days. You’re fortunate to live in such a beautiful place, in my humble opinion,” he ironically added to drive his stupid point home. “What else have you done this week?”

“Well…” I said haltingly, slowly catching on. “Dharma finally got groomed” (www.rockridgekennels.net) “and looks great. They do such a good job at Rock Ridge. Oh, and I got a haircut, too. Thank god. I love my stylist,” I continued. “She told me that her phone has been ringing off the hook, but she managed to squeeze me in. Of course, we both had to wear masks and follow all of the new protocols. She has to disinfect everything in-between clients and said that it’s hard to do her job wearing gloves and with her face covered. It was a little weird.”

“How does that make you feel?”

 “I’m really grateful that she was able to re-open and see me this week. I definitely look better,” I added, “and we went down to the lake at sunset, where we were totally alone and Dharma took advantage of that, social-distancing herself from me and barking at the ducks. I took some pictures and felt a little calmer than I had in a while. It was nice.”

“Why do you think that is?” Dr. X slyly interjected.

“Well, I’m usually too busy running around covering events for the paper,” I said before the proverbial light bulb went off. “You know that,” I rambled on. “I don’t often have the opportunity to just stop and smell the roses, as it were. Oh, I see where you’re going with this. You know, sometimes I hate you,” I said only half-joking. “You can be a real pain in the you-know-what, making me all introspective and stuff.”

“Go on.”

 “I guess I’ve been too busy freaking out and didn’t think it was even remotely possible that there was a silver lining to the situation,” I responded, secretly loathe to admit that he might know what he’s doing.

“There’s always a silver lining,” Dr. X said with a sly smile, “regardless of how dark the skies above appear. Sometimes, you just have to look a little harder to find it. I’m fairly sure that we’ll speak again soon,” he said with a wink. “Meanwhile, enjoy that gorgeous weather, and give Dharma a pat for me. You’re lucky to have her, don’t you think?”

“Okay, go,” I said in retort. “I’ll call you next week, but I’ll try to do it during normal business hours. How’s that for a silver lining?”

Fun Fact: “Look For the Silver Lining” is a popular song composed by Jerome Kern with lyrics by B.G. DeSylva. It was written in 1919 for the unsuccessful musical “Zip, Goes a Million” and later popularized by Judy Garland, whose version became, and remains, well-known. — Wikipedia

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