I Took A Mental Health Day


Anyone who’s read my recent posts on how I am learning to accept or about my reactions to our most effective president, knows that my mood is in a state of damage and disrepair. To help fix things up a bit, I took a mental health day yesterday.

For me, mental health is often improved by paying attention to my physical health—by engaging in physical activity, by acting young, by playing games.

I started at 7:00 a.m. on a humid, overcast morning playing two hard sets with my tennis friend, also a David. He’s a bit younger than me but a great partner and opponent: we’re mostly evenly matched and we bring similar temperaments to the court: play to win but enjoy the experience and don’t get hung up over losing.

I chased him the entire way on the first set, always behind a game, and ended up losing 6-7 in a tie breaker. Second set we were tied 3-3 and at this point I’m tired and my back is aching from the way he’s been running me back and forth and forcing me to lunge for balls. Somehow I win the next three games, largely due to his errors rather than my superior play, and take the set 6-3. We never play a third set, and rarely play a tiebreaker. I’m happy to have the split.

Home for a shower and breakfast, then an hour drive to visit Jim, who lives on a creek in a lovely setting. We relax with a bowl, get into a deep discussion on Black Lives Matter, and then it’s time to play games, these games less physical than tennis because he’s recovering from ankle surgery.

We start with croquet, the sport of old men, on a long pitch we set up in his yard overlooking the creek. He’s also the perfect partner: we play to win, but we also advise each other on shot selection and strategy.

I take the first game, he gets the second. Another satisfying split. We sit by the water and watch the geese and the birds, then we uncover the pool table in his shop and start in on that. We split the first two games and play a third. I make a lucky shot and sink the eight ball on my first attempt.

Then it’s home to Harriet, who has worked hard all day while I took my mental health day, and my mood has already improved so much I don’t feel that guilty. We decide it’s date night. We choose a Black-owned restaurant to support, order Nigerian takeout, and walk to Washington Park where we put down our blanket and eat dishes we’ve never tried before and drink a beer.

Later, we watch an original Star Trek episode, which I haven’t seen in years and find campy and amusing. I fall asleep during the show, which I rarely do while watching anything. It must be because I’ve finally relaxed, my mind has settled for now, and that’s what mental health day is about.

By David Klein

David Klein

Published novelist, creative writer, journalist, avid reader, discriminating screen watcher.


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