Why American Teens Are So Sad

Derek Thompson in The Atlantic.

Somber opening that won’t surprise anyone working closely with adolescents.

“The United States is experiencing an extreme teenage mental-health crisis. From 2009 to 2021, the share of American high-school students who say they feel “persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness” rose from 26 percent to 44 percent, according to a new CDC study. This is the highest level of teenage sadness ever recorded.”

The rest is required reading for anyone seeking to understand teen mental health.

Imagine If

The doctor says it’s terminal and you only get one more walk or run. Where and when? I’d be torn between these beauts.

The Arb, Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota. Miles of incredible, meandering trails. Some by a river, some surrounded by head high grasses, often accompanied by deer. I always get lost and never sweat it. More miles, more better. Great anytime, but especially primo in the fall.

Bodega Head Trail, Bodega Bay, California. What it lacks in distance, it more than makes up in natural beauty. 1.9 miles of exquisite Bodega Bay and greater Pacific Ocean views. Stop anywhere, lay down, and soak up the Vitamin D. The ice plant makes great cushioning for a mid-day nap. An all-time great spring run.

Oak Bay Loop, Victoria, British Columbia. From the Hotel Grand Pacific to Dallas Road around Ross Cemetery and back. ANY sunny morning, but especially nice in the summer. If those coastal views don’t lift your spirit, you really are terminal.

Sunriver, Oregon, Benham Falls Deschutes River Trail. Another summer gem. Beautiful green grasses, a calm river mixed in other places with beautiful water falls, all framed by high desert pines. Full disclosure, since it’s my last run, I’ll be shirtless on this one.

Lastly, if the diagnosis comes in winter, really anyplace with two inches of fresh snow will suffice, but it’s tough to beat Hamar, Norway and Olympia, Washington.

What am I missing?

I Would Watch This Movie

Morgan Hoffmann left the PGA Tour in search of a cure. He found so much more.

Here’s the elevator pitch.

Young, free-spirited, athletic and muscular professional golfer has success on the PGA Tour until he’s diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. He becomes extremely disillusioned that the best Western docs have little hope for him living a normal life, let alone continuing his career. He puts his sticks away, moves to Costa Rica with his wife and dogs, lets his hair grow, surfs, and turns to alternative medicine. Gets better. Plans to return to competition.

Monday Required Reading

There is no vacation from reading. Indeed, some take the view that there’s no vocation, but reading.

The rich vs the very, very rich: the Wentworth Golf Club rebellion. The makings of a great novel.

The very, very rich vs the Mormon church. I’d read that novel too.

It’s time for car companies to shut up about electric vehicles and just ship them. Amen.

Norway’s most popular cycle route. Yes please.

Here’s what schools are doing to try to address students’ social-emotional needs. Shame on me, I shoulda lead with this.

The Most Famous Person You’ve Ever Met?

I grant you that’s a strange question from me given my aversion to personality cults and celebrity culture. For some of you it’s probably me, but for me, it’s Desmond Tutu. Shook his hand in 1989 or 1990 when he visited Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I was teaching at an international school there. Not sure where the picture is.

Talk about leaving the world a better place. Rest in peace Desmond.

Speaking Of The Dark

We have made the turn! Atmospherically, we are now firmly ensconced on the tenth tee box. 

Screen Shot 2021-12-20 at 4.21.31 PM

Note that today is 3 seconds longer than yesterday; tomorrow will be 10 seconds longer than today; and then 13 seconds; and for Christmas, 20 seconds.

Could this obsessive monitoring of mine be a symptom of SAD

Mr. Blue Sky please tell us why
You had to hide away for so long (so long)
Where did we go wrong?
Hey there Mr. Blue (sky)
We’re so pleased to be with you (sky)
Look around see what you do (blue)
Everybody smiles at you

Consciously Turn From The Dark

For me, the Efficiency Evangelists who preach a Life Hack gospel breed serious cynicism. Because their gospel message seemingly follows from a mindless amalgam of capitalism, social status, and materialism.

But since my time is increasingly finite, I’m down with “efficiency lite”; meaning making the most of my time, ideally without the capitalism, social status, and materialism baggage. This means I routinely read book, t.v., and film reviews to improve my odds of choosing content that is especially compelling. This also means being at least somewhat intentional about who I hang with. I seek content and people that either inform, inspire, challenge, lighten, and/or uplift myself and others.

Unlike the Efficiency Evangelists, I don’t want to accomplish more, I just don’t want to waste my time on people and content that breed contempt for this one precious and wild life.

Is it just me, or does it seem like we’re surrounded by people and content that breeds contempt for damn near everything? Increasingly, the glass isn’t half full, it’s bone dry.

This means my task is two-fold, actively seeking the light in terms of uplifting people and content while actively rejecting the dark. Therefore, I have to get better at not reading and watching some content, not engaging with some social media, and not interacting with some people.

When the Good Wife and I sit down to dinner, we sometimes ask, “What did you do today?” What I’m reflecting on here gets at another important question we are not in the habit of asking which is, “What didn’t you do today? Who didn’t you see? What did you choose not to read? What media did you disengage from? What social media did you purposely skip?”

To live more wild, socially redeeming, precious, fulfilling lives, we have to be wiser and more self-disciplined about combatting the cynical, spiteful, mean-spirited non zero-sumness that dominates our media. That cynical, spiteful, mean-spirited non zero sumness has done as much or more damage to our spirits, interpersonal relations, and democracy, as the ‘rona has to our physical health.

With apologies to the non-sports minded, we have to play much, much better defense and consciously turn from the dark.

p.s. Did I ever tell you about the time I did a reverse dunk in a winter bball tournament with gloves on?

Thinking In My Sleep

When his friends rip him for what they perceive to be an unusually lax job, an egghead professor friend of mine likes to joke that “The life of the mind is 24/7.”

A very successful writing friend of mine once told me that “if you don’t think about your current writing project when you first wake up, something’s wrong.” I’m fascinated by the subconscious which I think of as the nearly continuous internal dialogue I have with myself. 

Sometimes I can write a medium-long, (hopefully) substantive blog post in 20 minutes only because subconsciously, I’ve been sporadically working on it for days in my mind. Sometimes even, while asleep. 

In one first year writing conference a student of mine described her pre-writing process on one paper this way, “I talked about the prompt a lot while driving around with my friends and then my dad and I really got into it.” For which she received historic levels of extra credit. 

Of what does your internal dialogue consist? Are there patterns or themes? What shapes your subconscious? For me, it’s a combination of things I read, watch, and listen to; reflections on interactions with people past and present; and then staring at the Cooper Point coastline of the Salish Sea while nursing my morning latte. 

If your subconscious has atrophied as a result of not exercising it enough, maybe you should give this a go.   

Source: @AwesomeLibrarians