I’m happy. I’ve been happy for almost a year with barely any depressive dips and I can’t really explain why. Maybe it’s not just happiness, perhaps it’s also contentment, self acceptance and generally better mental health.
With this happiness has come a willingness to leave the house more often, which has also led to reconnecting with friends that I’d drifted away from over the past decade, apologising to some for having lost touch when I was at my lowest and getting to know others who were probably acquaintances before.
One of the best things about my world and the people I chose to surround myself with is that they are intelligent, creative, artistic and kind. I see what they are doing with their lives and I’m so proud that I even know them a little bit. I know people who can write beautiful poetry and prose, who can sing, play and dance, who take stunning photos, who make people laugh and cry with their stories, who create works of art in physical forms and send them out into the world. The world at the moment can be very frightening, depressing and unsettling, but I’m grateful for those bringing joy into it.
I barely wrote anything last year, partly because I find it easier to express myself when I’m depressed because it’s a good way of working through those feelings, but also partly because I was busier last year living my life than I have been in the last 5 years. I went to 20 comedy gigs dressed in sequins, two weddings, one christening and a funeral, been speed-mateing, to festivals, gigs, quizzes, bowling, cinema, stripped naked with strangers to talk on a podcast, sung lullabies to kids, made career choices, made an effort to spend more time with family and to look after myself more.
I intend to be as busy, if not more so this year, I’ve already booked time off across the year to go to music and comedy festivals, invited people to share time with me, offered to feed some travelling artists, set myself homework for one of my jobs and made a list of songs that I’m going to learn. I want to stay generally happy and I can only rely on myself to do that.
The reason I started to write this particular post and gave it the title ‘And then’ is because I saw a post on Facebook about the upcoming album launch of Katie Doherty and the Navigators ‘And Then’. Back in September I trundled across the city to see Katie, Dave Grey and Shona Mooney perform in Cafe #9. Katie’s first album ‘Bridges’ is one of my favourites and one that I come back to over and over again. I’ve learned a couple of songs from it that I used to perform and hopefully will again, and I chose one of her songs ‘Beautiful Colour’ to play at Dad’s funeral. It’s a truly beautiful album and although she’s been working solidly in music for the eleven years since it was released, she’s not recorded another until recently.
The gig was cosy, intimate and fun. I sat with many of Dave’s family, sang along to the ones that I knew, only cried a little bit and was filled with a warmth and pride for the talented people I knew. They played some songs from ‘Bridges’, from the musical Katie wrote and, of course, new songs from the ‘And Then’. Despite not having seen them for years because of my self-imposed exile I was warmly welcomed and we chatted away after in the pub with Katie’s brother, sister in law, and some actors they know from the musical.
After Christmas, when I had to take down the decorations and return my sitting room to it’s usual mildly drab chaos, I played ‘And Then’ as my soundtrack. It helped to change the feeling of the room being empty to one that is primed with potential, to be filled with friends, food, laughter, song and more joy than it has in a long time.
“And then know, when you can feel tomorrow, coming at you like a force nine gale, you gave away some of your finest moments to the breeze that blows tomorrow away…”