Site icon Matteo Cervelli | The People Gardener

How are you?

single perspective photography of forest beside body of water

Photo by Jacob Morch on

“How are you?”. 

I never liked this conventional ice-breaker between people, so I usually answer honestly, even when things aren’t “fine”. And people in answer freeze, so I minimize “It will pass”. People don’t care how you are.

However, these days, I can’t stand this question. So I skip the answer. But not today, today I want to entrust this essay to answer for me.

The answer is: I’m very bad at the moment, and it’s something I am not used to, although it’s 6 months since I have been in this deep crisis.

Everything started with a lit fuse in march: I got my elbow broken while walking in the wood. Not a big deal, but it stopped me from having my everyday life. That day, with a lovely brand new cast attached to my arm, I certainly did not imagine the chasm that would open inside me, showing me my fragility. 

I was focused on more minor issues: I couldn’t run, drive, work properly, help at home and write, a new habit it brought me to another level of consciousness about my thoughts. 

Quite quickly, I started to spend my days doing practically nothing, consuming things online, with the sensation of unaccomplishment and guilt at the end of the day. I moved with some reluctance between the sofa and the desk, using my left hand to do everything, often finding myself turned 3/4 towards the screen. When something more mentally requiring jumps next to the do list, the siren song of something more straightforward to do. 

I started listening for the umpteenth time, like better writing a newsletter I never launched. It attracted me like cheese to rats, waiting for the day I would eventually do great things.

And when I recovered, instead of returning energized, I started to bask in this situation, cooking like a rib while life’s events fleshed my meat soaked in the barbecue sauce of fast dopamine.

However, my feeling was only the tip of the iceberg. 

I am burned out and depressed. Or I feel like I am. I don’t frankly know what depression is. And I don’t like to speak with a Psychologist right now to confirm or not. I suppose I am not in the worst scenario. I am more confused about what this 2022 is presenting me. The safety net has always been the last day of December.

But this would mean my mom is a year older. This is the primary concern because she was diagnosed in 2021 with MSA-p, a rare disease with a short life expectancy, around 7 years, without a cure, without real experimentation. She gets worse quickly, and I am the only one who can effectively sustain her during the illness.

Why? I am the only one because my father is not entirely autonomous, and my parent’s family is financially at risk because no one except my mother or me has a decent wage. I feel the pressure of taking steps every day without being able to fail and forcing others to make unpleasant choices to ensure a future for this group of people. And this stepped over my real family situation because my wife decided to give up working, for now, to follow the daughters’ growth instead of spending money for an external babysitter. 

We have two wonderful daughters we consider a gift as we struggled to be parents, and we understand that having this possibility is not easy for us. However, when the second daughter was born. It became doom for our marriage. She had some health issues that she brilliantly overcame today. But the pressure of a second kid is so hard to bear. And daily duties cause my wife and me to feel like she hundreds of miles away in an apartment under a thousand square feet. We don’t spend time together and don’t speak to each other about our relationship. We don’t care about our garden for the right amount of time. We are losing our compassion.

Never mind, I’m sure we will succeed in the end. We rely on each other more than we currently notice and always remember how beautiful our life was together. There is no comparison to the invisible life without each other.

Furthermore, I feel guilty about my family time.

Family time is low because I spend lots of time working after caring for my mother. After all, the manufacturing world is a mess at this moment, and the company sometimes floats in the waves of a sea too strange to understand where to point the compass. Ah, and I’m the fucking captain, the one everyone gives directions to and has to decide just by listening to the white whale’s voice.

But am I envisioning right in the company? Or am I conducting our 40+ year family business on a dead-end road? And what would be my future? Sometimes my company doesn’t suit me. I don’t feel like I am making the right impact and working on others’ business ideas. And being the leader of others’ businesses means that I sometimes need to force people that don’t embrace a vision, however full of meaning, that they did not choose from the very beginning when the company hired them.

To be honest, I don’t like the product so much, neither be a back tier in a B2B manufacturing company for the building sector. 

This makes me itchy like a wool sweater that’s too tight against bare skin. Am I missing opportunities? People ask me to join other projects that seem I am the only one able to turn into profit. But sometimes people speak about talents I don’t have. Am I wasting them?

At the end of this disturbing story, the biggest concern is about the future, family situation, and money. Yes, I don’t feel financially safe, and while everything is on my shoulder (or it is what I see), am I making the right choices? Do we spend more than we can? Italy is not in a good situation right now. Do I have to change something?

So. How Am I?

Writing this story made me think, and I feel partially better. I see a small flickering candle on a rusty table. There’s a paintbrush aside, and I have never painted anything. Maybe I should ask my wife. She is incredibly good with handicrafts works. There’s a window at the end of the room, and I can see a sizzling ocean out there while the mist covers everything. Yes, I can be a house for the light to shine and bring color to this sea. I must heal myself. I want to heal.

Now, what’s the next right thing?

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