I'm a pathological extrovert.
Since recovering from Covid-19 I have continued to have mild symptoms of cough and strained lung capacity. Four weeks out, and I’m testing negative but something about my lungs doesn’t feel right.
I was in denial about having dangerous hypertension, and my coping mechanisms are to occasionally smoke a cigarette, drink more coffee, and stay out late doing dumb shit, which all contribute to higher blood pressure.
I am getting old.
In any of these situations any number of things and people, contexts can be blamed. Assuming responsibility and control of my order feels like an act of maturity.
The other day I loaded my drum kit from West Philly to Fishtown. The trip involved climbing a flight of stairs and fighting the rain. My friend who’d done the heavy lifting on departure side asked if I was going to be OK on the arrival side and it occurred to me maybe I wouldn’t be.
I was fine. I took it slow, and improvised a kind of rigging system with the trash cart at my destination. When my stands spilled across the hall I didn’t lunge to catch them, and instead let them wait for me to come back. I didn’t do anything else that evening that would further contribute to aggravation of my back. This was an important errand because I delivered while knowing my physical limits. That I have any is depressing.
I had a conversation about FOMO the other day. With the same friend who helped me load out, as a matter of fact. I think older adults cannot publicly have FOMO. It feels juvenile to want to go to Coachella or whatever. But on behalf of older adults, I think our Joy Of Missing Out (JOMO) might be a kind of cruelty. It means we delight in refusing invitations. “Do I have FOMO? Oh god no. I love saying no to things.”
In the conversation, I remembered that the concept of FOMO refers to the emotional phenomenon of seeing friends’ pictures on social media and feeling left out. FOMO is not when you say no to invitations. That’s just withholding. FOMO is the feeling of your heart breaking a little bit when you are not invited to the thing in the first place.
As someone whose calendar is filled with accepted invitations to events every day (sometimes conflating and conflicting events) going back ten years, I have something like a preventative measure. I hate making people feel bad, so I just agree to everything I’m asked too, and hope I get asked to everything forever. I want zero boundaries. Except, now that I’m falling apart, I realize that this behavior has led to a kind of over-leveraging of my particular neurosis for loving everybody.
For those who feel left out, I want to share what I’ve learned. When I am not invited to participate in something, I have to remember that it is a kindness, not a cruelty. You are preventing my own harm, sabotage, hangover, poor conclusions, witnessing, long covid, broken heart.
The kindness of exclusion has to include some regret.
I am old and broken.
I’ll see you soon.