Have you ever been in a funk? Assuming the answer is yes, how did it feel? More importantly, how did it end?
As I write this, I find myself in the middle of one.
For me, funks are episodic. Sometimes lasting a few hours, sometimes a few days. Rarely much more.
Different from true crises, which force us to focus all our energy to resolve a single pressing problem, funks are often a collection of smaller issues. Like a series of small clouds that collectively gray out our entire sky. (Appropriately enough one of the first definitions of funk was related to tobacco smoke.)
The rationale approach would be to simply resolve one small issue at a time – until at least some sunshine can break through. Yet it is the sheer number of issues that paralyze us. Leaving us unmotivated to clear any cloud.
Temporal solutions can provide some relief – a workout, a drink, a mindless TV show. But the clouds slowly drift back in – after the run, the last sip or when the credits roll.
Once, I put this metaphor to paper. Drawing myself looking up at the sky. Labeling each cloud by the problem it represented. The size of the cloud is proportional to the perceived issue.
This proved remarkably effective. In seeing them all on a single page, it provided perspective. My problems, while real to me, paled in comparison to those others deal with each day.
Many “problems” were in fact related to privileges or opportunities that carried a degree of stress – largely the result of my neglect. “I need to plan this vacation before time runs out.” “I have a deadline for this book proposal and I don’t know where to start.” “I have to write a note to soccer parents about the new season and tournament schedule.”
Other problems are, in fact, more serious and existential. As I get older, I worry more about my health and the health of others. Family members or friends dealing with illnesses from which they will not heal. Loss of some sort or another creeps into each day. You begin to question your own mortality and purpose.
The clouds roll in thicker and thicker.
Yet in writing them down, I feel somewhat invigorated. To see the funk is to make it more manageable. To note that it is temporal. Reminding us what we can and can’t control and providing that initial source of motivation that like a warm breeze moves across the sky dispersing a single cloud at a time. Momentum begins to gust. Eventually, your sky may not be clear of all clouds but enough to remove the funk that previously dominated your outlook.
Once I finish drafting this post, I will pull out a pencil and a piece of paper to try this process again. I trust it will help and hopefully by the time you read this my funk will be gone.
Here comes the sun.