Of course, we all get up on the wrong side of the bed sometimes. As far as I can tell, my periodic irritability is not due to any difficulty I’ve had with any one or any thing—certainly nothing that’s obvious to me. I’m in my early fifties and so, it’s likely yet another time to expect an hormonal bonanza. So, who knows , maybe I can lay it at the door of “my time of life.”
Everything Going Wrong
But I sometimes do overthink things a little. As well, I’m fairly sure I allow the troubles from my past to edge a little too much into my present. And I’m certain my focus on the now slips every now and then, careering uncontrollably down with my already descending morale. It’ll always be a work in progress.
At any rate, when I slowly roll out of the wrong side of my bed, I am weighted down with everything I feel is going wrong in my life. It’s a frame of mind, make no mistake. The cup is half empty, damn it. I’ll refuse to hear anything otherwise. That’s the nature of my mood, I’m afraid.
I go about robing myself in an array of perspectives coloured in shades of sorrow and melancholy. It’s important to emphasise, it is only a perspective. At any other time, the same idea or thought would be clothed in a far brighter and spirited manner. But not right now when the sky seems to be falling and nothing is going right in my life.
Is There a Way Out?
So, what to do? And I’m not alone in my dilemmas. Many of us are tripped up by periodic blues. Given the problem, how do we wrest ourselves from the doleful embrace? Sure, time is all that’s sometimes required. All we need to do is maybe have something to eat. I’m sure you’ve heard of this dilemma. Researchers have identified a tie between our blood sugar and our mood.
Sometimes we have little comments, ready and waiting, that merely compound the murkiness surrounding us. They’re the words potentially hurtling us towards a constant re-play of everything that’s gone wrong in our lives. We focus on how this always happens and how we’ll never be … fill in the blank. It never ends, until our fixated attention is somehow pried away from that mesmerising bottomless pit.
Following the Words of a Tunneler
For me, my sensibilities are shaken into place by a quote from a soldier. I’d been doing some research on the First World War and encountered this corner of history. When I looked a little more deeply, I realised it was much larger than I’d initially realised.
The soldier was a tunneler. I’d not be surprised if that doesn’t ring a bell, as they weren’t the most well known members of our past. Still, they hold an undeniably honourable place. Often it was miners who were enlisted to build the tunnels below the fighting that occurred on the surface—No Man’s Land. Three simple words that can’t quite capture the horrific reality of the place.
The explosion of the mine under Hawthorn Ridge Redoubt, 1 July 1916 (Photo 1 by Ernest Brooks).
During the First World War, the idea was for their men to tunnel below the enemy and then place explosives in the mines. This was expertly done beneath Hawthorn Ridge Redoubt on the Western Front at the beginning of the Battle of the Somme. It was this explosion that was supposed to have started the battle.1 At times enemy tunnelers would encounter one another below the surface and a skirmish would ensue.
The tunnelers had to keep a wary ear out for any mining that was taking place. Both sides of the war employed these tactics. As a result, those on the British side would employ various devices in order to hear. One such method involved forcing a stick into the ground and then holding the other end between their teeth. This permitted one to sense any vibrations resulting from the digging of the opposing side.
Understandably, the entire process was highly stressful. One would expect anyone involved to be of a dark humour. So, I was astonished when I read how the archaeologists had encountered the words scrawled on one of the tunnel’s walls. Given the circumstances, the words would seem out of place. Yet, amidst the maelstrom, William Carr was able to share astoundingly poignant and touching words. He wrote,
“If in this place you are detained, don't look around you all in vain, but cast your net and you will find, that every cloud is silver lined. Still.”
Bearing His Words in Mind
And it’s those words that always give me pause. While we may feel confined or imprisoned in whatever dilemma we’re experiencing, we’re not to worry. For within the darkness, there will always be a light shining through, William Carr assures us. So, hold fast, he says. His thoughts were clearly not on his own troubles. He only sought to ease the path for those who followed.
If this man was able to evoke such beauty and majesty while all hell was erupting overhead, then surely I can endure the tiny, by comparison, challenges with which I find myself contending. This is certainly not to imply that some of things with which we’re contending are of no concern.
What we’re facing may very well be on par with the challenges of William Carr—perhaps more. Still, his words are intended as a gentle push forward. Every now and then, we’re brought down by some one or some thing. At other times, as I’ve suggested, we have no idea why we’re feeling down. It just happens sometimes.
In any case, there may be a period when we’re feeling beleaguered and down. But hopefully, we can remember words such as those of William Carr. They remind us of our strength, courage, and fortitude. We recall how, with a little perseverance, we’ll discover a path out of the holes we, too often, have dug for ourselves. These words and phrases offer us leverage, the firm support we need to free our selves.
So, sure, maybe we’ve just gotten up on the wrong side of the bed. But there’s no need to stay there for long.
BBC News 2014 “WW1 soldiers’ writing unearthed in Somme tunnels” https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-cumbria-25748393
Herman, Arthur 2014 “Notes From the Underground: The Long History of Tunnel Warfare” https://www.hudson.org/national-security-defense/notes-from-the-underground-the-long-history-of-tunnel-warfare
Mirror 2011 “Inside the lost First World War tunnels of the Somme”
Morin, Amy 2022 “ How to Stop Overthinking” https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-know-when-youre-overthinking-5077069
Science News 2018 “Link between hunger and mood explained” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/09/180925115218.htm
Wikipedia 2022 “Tunnelling companies of the Royal Engineers” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tunnelling_companies_of_the_Royal_Engineers
Wikipedia 2022 “Tunnel warfare” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tunnel_warfare#cite_ref-hst2128_1-0