Gnatcatcher Fighting Himself

I’ve been obsessed with this nesting gnatcatcher that has declared war on himself in the side-yard. It’s said a good daily exercise is to look in the mirror and challenge yourself to say, ‘I love you.’ The gnatcatcher deplores his reflection—he finds it in the chrome hubcap of my car and expends way too much energy fighting it. I hear him tink-tink flurrying himself at the hubcap, striking the reflection with his bill and outstretched wings. He gets knocked backwards, does it again. Ruffles his feathers, then rears at his visage ten more times before letting up.

It used to be I did the same thing. “April,” TS Eliot said, “Is the cruelest month.” And I’m not inclined to disagree because April has historically been hard for me, but May always seemed the drop-weight of the calendar, a plunging anchor right about mid-year when the gray sets in in San Diego and when—during my Penguin Years—the lights would lower in an eventual return to Antarctic darkness.

I’m better now.

But it would get so that my blood would hurt mid-year, and I’d be spinning off into depression after the manic months of February and March. I’d look into the figurative hubcap and fight my own reflection. I’d go radio-static.

FB memories is an interesting tool for me to gauge my mental health. Like in Memento, where the protagonist would tattoo himself daily to remember his day, I write down my stories to placehold a time, to memorialize the days and months. I’m very purposeful on social media: all these stories, these songs, have reason behind them. And when the memories appear on FB, I quietly measure my mental health against old cycles. This may seem overthinking things, but it’s really a good tool concerning self-awareness. Sometimes I don’t know I’m manic until I’m in it; sometimes I don’t spot a depression looming until I see my annual tendency toward radio staticity.

But, again, I’m better. I’m not the gnatcatcher fighting his reflection, nor have April nor May been cruel to me. I currently revel in the light rain that accompanies my morning walks and remark the blooms, which are mine alone at 5 in the morning. I am serene. I am content. I am opposite the bird who sees himself and expresses his discontent. May this continue.

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