Ziti is a magical thing.

Ever since the Sopranos–and Carmella’s kinda-sorta priest-seducing ziti–I’ve wondered how it could be so magical.

I told you so.

And then I tasted it.

A friend whom I hadn’t seen in far too long invited us over for dinner. And ziti was on the menu.

It’s a magical place.

Wait, that’s Tahiti, not ziti.

The company was oh-so-good. Visiting with my friend and her daughters was something out of the ordinary: my leaving the house for something other than work or doctor appointments is an event in my house.

Sitting across the table from real, live, actual people who weren’t my family was something I thought I had forgotten how to do.

But that ziti, though.

I’ve never been the reliable friend. Even before R.D. I’d have dark moods, dim days of depression that would keep going and going and going, and I’d drop out of sight, hunkering down in the homestead.

And after a while, I’d try again, resurfacing and swearing by the Old Gods—and the New—that I’d stay in touch this time.

I’m really, really good at breaking promises to myself.

But not just to myself.

Believe it or not, breaking promises, especially to those I care about,  takes a toll.  The act of breaking a promise reminds me that I’m even less reliable, that I’m a promise-breaker.  That I’m a liar.

Those things can become part of your identity if you let them.

It’s so easy to become disconnected. It’s so easy to let my world shrink, become unfathomable beyond anything other than work and home.

Everything is magnified then. Dust becomes volcanic ash, impenetrable and impossible to clean. Dishes become Mt. Everest. The undone to-do list becomes the Amazon River.

Doctor Who becomes vastly more important. Now I love me some Doctor Who. But when watching a man in a bad ass leather jacket offer air from his lungs to trees becomes the highlight of my month, I might just need to re-think my coping mechanisms.

An object in motion tends to stay in motion. An object at rest tends to stay at rest.

It’s Newton’s first law of how to be a human or something. (More probable: laws of motion)

A person connected tends to stay connected. A person cut off tends to stay cut off.

It’s at this point, the little star on a timeline, where the beginning of the disconnection happens–that life becomes something other than life. As it moves along the timeline, the world shrinking tighter than vacuum-sealed speckled trout, the broken promises piling up higher than last year’s laundry, it becomes more definable as something other than life.

It becomes a half-life, at best.

Energy is so very finite. So is time. Not just this hour’s time, or this day’s time, although they are limited, but our time.

Hiding from the rest of the world doesn’t do anything but shrink my vision of the world, creating an echo chamber in which everything bad is magnified.

Three things we can do to ensure more than a half-life:

1. Make a habit of staying in touch with someone. 

Make it a priority. Even if it’s just one person.  Start where you are. If you’re not up for seeing someone, call them. Text them. Reach out. Even if you do nothing else that day, you will have done more than you did the day before.  It’s easy to let our “priorities” get pushed to the bottom when dirty dishes and laundry and grocery shopping need to be done.  Making establishing and maintaining connection adds to your life–always.

Ziti reminded me of how important it is to be connected. Not just in terms of having a support system, which everyone should have—but just for the human connection.

Sure, it can be energetically expensive to meet someone out or, if you’re housebound, to have someone over.

But never underestimate the restorative power of the company of those who get you. 

 

2. Let the dishes stay dirty if you have a choice between doing dishes or connecting with someone.

If they’re your people, they won’t sweat the dishes. If it’s someone who will sweat the dishes, choose another person. This is when you need to call upon your chosen family, your pack, your tribe.

If you don’t have one, look into forming one. Find people who make you feel better about yourself. That raise you up rather than belittle you. That encourage your hopes and listen to your fears.  Choose wisely those on whom you choose to spend your energy.

You have so little energy. Use it productively. Venture beyond the half-life.

3. Eat the ziti.

Take a chance. If you’re physically able, say “yes” to the next invitation if it comes from someone who cares for you. If you’re not emotionally able, try anyway.

Say yes. Even if it is beyond your comfort zone. Especially if it’s beyond your comfort zone.

As long as the invitation comes from one of “your people,” say yes.

Sometimes ziti is just what you need.

[Featured image: Photo by Harli Marten on Unsplash

Image of Carmella from the HBO series The Sopranos from Pinterest.]

Eat the Ziti

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