and how to beat it
I have given more though to the “ennui” issue. A couple of people have told me they had never come across the term but now that they have, they think it brilliantly sums up how they feel. I once wrote a piece with the same title for a Toronto publication. This was probably around 2002. I recall lying on my living room couch, on a dreary “spring” day in Toronto. For those of you who have not lived on the Great Lakes, let me just say spring is only a word, a notion, not a season. In a good year, we had a two week period Europeans or people in the lower latitudes of the US would call spring: blooming magnolias and temps in the 60’s. This would typically be in the first two or three weeks of May. The seven months immediately preceding it: bone-chilling winter. The four months following it: sweltering, muggy summer. The day in question was in mid-April. It was cold and miserable but the pigeons didn’t mind. They fluttered just outside my window, perched on the railing in serious numbers and fouled up the balcony in no time flat. I had enough guano to start making gunpowder. I was lying on my stomach on the living room couch, observing the wing-flapping rascals, thinking I should get the hell up and shoo them away. But I couldn’t summon up the energy. Nor could I find enough pep to make myself a cup of coffee, or even read a book.
Now, you’d think to yourself, that sounds like depression! But I had no suicidal thoughts, my appetite was not diminished, I had no doubts about my self-worth; in a word, no typical signs of depression. I had ennui! Birds on the balcony? Can’t be bothered. Mailbox full? Let it overflow! Wife mad at me? Let her divorce me. Not sure I would have gone through with that last one. But that was the general vibe.
In my case, ennui is caused by protracted periods of enforced idleness. Twenty years ago, if I recall correctly, there was a dearth of work. I was a full time musician but for a season or two, I had a terrible time getting enough work to make a living. What made it worse and was the fact that my wife was making about 80K a year, which lowered my motivation to look for work and made me easily discouraged (“We’ll be fine, we’re not going to starve”) I was a perfect living example of how welfare - governmental or family - kills your incentive. And once you’re not motivated to work, which for musicians is made a thousand times worse by having to face constant rejection, ennui ensues (those two words sound good together, n’est ce pas? “ennui ensues”)
I did back then what I do now: I work out a schedule and stick to it come rain or come shine.
Breakfast at 8. Write between 9 and noon. Lunch break. Record music in the afternoon. And spend as much time outdoors as possible. Of course, the “pandemic” as they call it (I’ll explain in a minute why it’s a misnomer), made mockery of my routine. Who was I getting up for? Who was I writing for. Even more painfully, who was I recording music for? Suddenly I was like a writer, torn out of his homeland, continuing to write, but alienated from the source of his inspiration, the fertile soil of his muse: his readers! (this exact thing happened to my father in 1968, btw. A topic for another “stack”) At the start of the panic-demic, I made some excellent connection with the international music community over Instagram and recorded countless duets and trios with me in Florida, the bassist in Boston and the clarinetist in Budapest. Nevertheless, the novelty wears off. Without real gigs, real listeners. real market for my music, ennui ensued in short order. I am now slowly being able to rebalance, I’ve found great readers right here on the “Stack” - that would be you, ladies and gentlemen - have completed a 5 song EP of Louis Armstrong material (contact me in interested in purchasing), finished music for an important documentary we hope to screen at Sundance and it the looming decimation of the Democrat party and their woke lunacy is coming in November, inshallah (I’m Jewish but “inshallah” is such a perfect phrase)
I have never used the word “pandemic” because it was usurped and abused by politicians from very early on. The very same Public Health people and politicians blamed every piece of misery they caused, every idiotic restriction they imposed, on the “pandemic”. The truth of the matter is - and we know it now with certainly, just look at Shanghai - other than transitory overcrowding at a limited number of hospitals in Northern Italy and in New York City, every single issue from skyrocketing suicide numbers, to delayed cancer surgeries, to canceled weddings and family celebrations, to grandparents dying in inhuman loneliness and segregation, to now emerging vaccine injuries…NONE has been caused by any pandemic, or any virus. All caused by our idiotic, clownishly inept leaders and the Public Health nomenklatura. You will not catch me saying things like “before the pandemic hit”
Be that as it may, I wish you all to fight your ennui as best you know how. Set yourself a schedule and don’t deviate. If you have a 9-5 job and are overcome with ennui during work hours, tough it out and when you come home, take one of the best cures: a long hot bath, followed by a nice massage if your spouse/partner is willing. Don’t watch TV, don’t spend much time on social media. Set small goals and enjoy the satisfaction of completing them. Get a dog! Dogs will force you to go outside and they will lick your face and love on you in precisely the most needed moments. Their therapeutic instincts are peerless. Dogs are the best healers, far cheaper than shrinks and much more effective (take it form someone who has tried both methods more than once)
Forward and upward friends, MONTES SUPERAMUS