My go-to coping strategy for when my chronic illness, chronic pain, or mental health are especially on the fritz is a thing I call “get lost.” I did not invent it and hardly think I even named it. Also, it’s not 100% effective. I might be generous by calling it 60% effective, especially when I won’t bother to even try. Nevertheless, it’s my thing and I like it.
What “get lost” means is to turn to an activity that distracts me to such an extent that it makes me feel better, if not physically than mentally. Of late, television and movies just won’t cut it. Sometimes a good book might work, but books can be disappointing. I did just discover the bliss of listening to an audiobook while solving my killer hard sudoku puzzles. That really stimulates the gray matter! And if you’ve been around lately, you know about my thing for LEGO. So much joy.
Yesterday, finally coming out of my fibromyalgia flare triggered by my COVID-19 booster shot, I took a different tack. I took my old lady dog out for a stroll and got lost in *her* head rather than my own. It was lovely.
Amica’s disabilities now include (mostly) blindness, (mostly) deafness, and chronic pain from arthritis and spinal degeneration. She, like me, is an avid practitioner of “get lost.” She’s never been into sports. She loves food but eats her meals way too quickly to even have a chance to be engrossed. Scritches get boring. That leaves smells.
The skies were blue. The breeze was calm. The sun warmed the winter air. I hooked my old lady up to her leash, which she appreciates as a way to know I’m close and will guide her, and we set off down the alley for some smells.
I took the opportunity to leave behind my own thoughts and feelings (and feelings about my thoughts!) and focused absolutely on Amica, trying to empathically feel her peace and pleasure at each sniff. It’s not like I’ve never done this before, but I feel like I forget too often how unifying and elating this mindfulness is.
I write this as a reminder to myself and as a suggestion to you to make more time to escape your own head and join the mind of a simpler creature, whether it be your dog, your infant, or the squirrel outside the window. It’s a soothing mental vacation.
P.S. Here again is our little movie about the 2019 adventure … and getting lost: