Spring by Edna St. Vincent Millay

To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only under ground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.
Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
April
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

A Failure to Think

Evil comes from a failure to think. It defies thought for as soon as thought tries to engage itself with evil and examine the premises and principles from which it originates, it is frustrated because it finds nothing there. That is the banality of evil.”

― Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil

This Is It’s Horror

Good can be radical; evil can never be radical, it can only be extreme, for it possesses neither depth nor any demonic dimension yet—and this is its horror—it can spread like a fungus over the surface of the earth and lay waste the entire world. Evil comes from a failure to think.”

— Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil

084 // Back to Myself

I’ve spent a long time away from myself now. Over a month at least. I’ve been resting and reading, working and cleaning, and not much more. I’m too drained, too dejected, and, sometimes, too distressed or disquieted for anything else.

But I have missed myself these past few weeks. I’ve missed spending time on those little things that calm me, awaken me, excite me. I have missed my early mornings, my solitude, my little hobbies and particulars.

The problem has been deep and persistent guilt building inside me. There are so many people around me taking the time to be patient, to be supportive, to be kind and helpful, which is all very good and nice, except now there are all these little debts I owe piling up everywhere all the time.

Now any scrap of motivation or focus I have has to be spent returning the favor. All I have time for now is work, or my house, or my loved ones. There’s nothing left that belongs to me anymore.

And today isn’t much different, except that I had a little too much coffee and found myself with just one spare minute I didn’t quite know what to do with. So, I thought, why not stop by this old place, clear some cobwebs, and sit for a minute with that old feeling of possibility?

And oh, how I have missed it too! I’m suddenly reminded of how many ideas I have yet to explore and how many little interesting and thought-provoking things I had hoped to share. I’m suddenly reminded that I had a purpose for this place and a goal for this year. I’m suddenly filled with a small—very small—spark of determination.

Now? Who knows. I found one minute today, maybe I can find two tomorrow? Maybe I can get comfortable carving out a little time and a little space—this space—to call my own. Maybe I can begin to believe I deserve something of my own at all.

Maybe I can find my way back to myself again.

An Open and Existential Category of Being

You are busy being born for the whole long ascent of life, and then, after some apex, you are busy dying—that’s the logic of the line, as I interpret it. Here, “being born” is an open and existential category: you are gaining experience, living intensely in the present, before the period of life when you are finished with the new. This “dying” doesn’t have to be negative. It, too, is an open and existential category of being: the age when the bulk of your experience, the succession of days lived in the present, is mostly over. You turn reflective, interior; you examine and sort and tally. You reach a point where so much is behind you, but it continues to exist somewhere, as memory and absence at once, as images you’ll never see again. None of it matters; it is gone. But it all matters; it lingers.”

— Rachel Kushner, “The Hard Crowd“, The New yorker

Goals // Week 08: Keep Doing What Works

This week my work days will begin get longer as I continue to heal and my ability to take on more roles and responsibilities grows. It’s been almost a year since I was last able to pour so much of myself and my time into my work but I’ll need to be mindful of my energy levels and make sure not to push myself too hard or too far.

With the extended days and lengthy lists of tasks that have piled up I know it will be all too easy to exhaust myself trying to make up for lost time.

This week I’m just to keep doing what works and focus on my most basic needs. It’s remembering to do the little things like meditate, drink water, rest, and eat that make the big goals possible. If the foundation crumbles the mind, the body, the mood, the whole day, and any chance at at productivity come down with it.

This week I will:

Wake up with my alarm, the first time it goes off!. I utterly failed at this goal last week. Worse than simply hitting snooze a few times I would get up and then actually return to the bed. Between the time needed to meditate and my resolution to start the workday 30 minutes earlier, I can’t keep starting my days this way.

Meditate every morning. Last week I only managed to work in one 10 minute session and it wasn’t nearly enough. Meditation and mindfulness have been critical elements to managing and coping with chronic illness. I have felt my mental health steadily declining since I stopped the practice, and I worry how far I will fall if I don’t return soon.

Eat meals and take medications on time. My work schedule has been a little chaotic lately which makes it hard not only to eat on time but to remember to be hungry at all! This has made healing all the more difficult as I miss out not only on the nutrients I need but miss the mealtime triggers for my medications. Bonus: Stay hydrated by taking a few sips of water at least every half an hour.

Not eat lunch at my desk. I’ve been missing out on 30 or 60 minutes of uninterrupted journal or blog time by blurring the line between personal and work time. My work day is already being extended enough and in order to maintain a healthy relationship with my work I need to draw clear boundaries and take advantage of time I have every right to claim as my own.

Write 500 words every day toward new blog posts. Last week I opened a few old unfinished drafts and managed a few awkward paragraphs of progress on each. This week I’d like to keep the momentum going and work down my running list of future posts one by one with the hope that I’ll find my old groove.

This week I will not fall into despair or self pity. It’s easy to get low especially now with so much uncertainty and loss around us. Our personal problems seem magnified. Our loneliness is deepened, and all of it feels impossible to overcome.

Personal goals feel unimportant in comparison to global grief but time hasn’t stopped ticking and we’ve already lost too much. It’s time to start trying again. It’s time to let a little bit of the pain go.

You can do this.


Photo by Klim Musalimov on Unsplash

050 // It Still Feels Good

I started the day feeling sluggish and stupid despite getting my third night in a row of uninterrupted sleep—a feat unheard of in my personal “new normal”.

Since that slow start, things have sped up quickly and the sluggish and stupid feeling gave way to a feeling of optimism that’s been building steadily since my first sips of coffee. I want to blame the caffeine, but I know there’s more to the change in mood.

Perhaps it’s because the end of the week I’ve been waiting so anxiously for has finally arrived. I hate to take the rest work week for granted like this, but time has been dragging so and I have been feeling such boredom and restlessness at work it’s driving me crazy! I’m in desperate need of real time to myself for a while.

I have started writing a few things in the gaps of time between emails, tasks, requests, and meeting. Nothing that amounts to much more than notes and outlines, but it’s a step forward from ideas and dreams, so I’ll take it.

This weekend I’d like to carve out time to do a lot more. I don’t want to lose what momentum I’ve gained. I want to use this new energy and excitement to polish and publish old drafts I’ve struggled to clarify and conclude.

It’s going to be tiresome and awkward path forward, but that doesn’t matter. It still feels good to be back in the chair, thinking and typing away about the little things that matter to me.