It’s been a tough year ( “hectic” is probably closer to the truth ) and when things pile on quickly I tend to get down on myself, and eventually I get a little depressed. I begin to dread dealing with people, dealing with problems that shouldn’t be all that big of a deal. Finally I don’t want to talk to people at all, I just want to mull whatever problem or challenge is on my plate until I over think it and make it into something huge and monstrous. Luckily, that’s usually when I remember one of the wiser things that I’ve heard come out of Dud’s mouth: “Badger’s Drift, you ninny,” he said. I had asked him how to get out of the funk I was in and he let loose in a flash: “Just go to Badger’s Drift for a while, and it’ll all start to make sense, again!”
“But that’s a fictitious town,” I said. “Charlotte Graham created it in her Midsomer County mystery Novels.You can’t just GO there! It’s mostly just become the Midsomer Murders series from the BBC Network.
“Of course you can, dummy, up here!” He tapped his forehead with his thumb and it slowly dawned on me what he was saying. “You said you thought it was a neat place as described in that TV series you go on about; so GO there in your head. Or to that amusement park you liked as a kid (Waldemere Park), or even that hunting camp you saw in that magazine. That’s what I do when things get me down: I go off in my mind to somewhere I couldn’t possibly be depressed for long, and before you know it reality doesn’t seem so bad. I mentally come home and start seriously working out what needs to be done.”
Now, Badger’s Drift isn’t specifically what I use to straighten myself out, but I’m almost certain it would work. You see, it’s not the “memory” of a happy time or place that helps, it’s the joy and comfort that was felt there. It’s the knowing that there were conflicts and problems back then as well, but I was able to compartmentalize things and enjoy the good while not really ignoring the bad. I usually find that what brings me back to the here-and-now isn’t the escaping from conflict and trouble, it’s actually the LACK of those things that make “Living” in Badger’s Drift lose it’s attraction very quickly. Midsomer County is a lovely, idyllic place where head-scratching mysteries abound and beautiful scenery and people flood the senses. But ultimately you know the solution to the mystery, you know what ride you’ll like best at the park and you know what joys the hunting and fishing have in store for you. It’s all right there in your own head, and you can’t really make yourself wonder how any of it will turn out.
Without really intending to, Dudley had shown my how to retake control of moods: By placing myself (for just a while) in a place where problems are eliminated, I start to see the value in them. I begin to realize that life without conflict is dull and becomes unattractive quickly, and that actual worries – however vexing and even maddening they can become – are what keeps the heart beating and the juices flowing. Badger’s Drift is at it’s exciting best when I’m watching a new episode and really DON’T know the solution. The real world is full of depressing, upsetting things. But it’s also part of the fabric of our lives. And yes, we can and should find a place like China or Salt Fork or a West Virginia river that was MADE for kayaking under huge bridges – any of which we can retreat to for a break. But as long as we see that simply reliving a happy memory doesn’t make NEW happy times, I think we’ll be alright.
This, anyway, has been working for me for some time. If it ever stops helping I don’t know what I’ll try next … but I’m pretty sure I’m not likely to tell all of you about it. You have your own problems.