“We know that in September, we will wander through the warm winds of summer’s wreckage. We will welcome summer’s ghost.”
— Henry Rollins, from “Summer Be Gone!” published in LA Weekly
The wind has shifted and instead of carrying warmth from the west, there’s a chill now that blows from the north straight through my bones. The first leaves are starting to brown and fall and early Autumn, the time of change and preservation has begun.
At first I tried to ignore the signs. but as temperatures began to fall, as the clouds rolled in and as the earliest snow I can remember fell, I knew I could no longer live in denial. The time of long days, warm weather, and sunshine has gone.
Summer technically ended just weeks ago, but I’ve been mourning its loss for a long time now. Last March the world shut down and though it’s opened up somewhat it’s only been enough to permit work. The usual summer activities and festivities have been cancelled, postponed, or outright avoided for safety reasons as the pandemic continues to rage and the worry over risk remains high. What we had was a ghost of a summer, just enough to remind of us of what we’ve lost.
We’ve tried to create a bubble of time outside of time hoping to return to our life and loved ones after the danger passed but the new normal is quickly become just normal and hope is waning that we will return to a more recognizable world. Life is marching on and change is blowing in. The time for grieving the old world must end as we make this Autumn in particular a season of acceptance and protection. This Autumn in particular must be a time of letting go…
…but before I do, here’s what I am currently:
Writing every day,. Most of September found me feeling fatigued and frustrated with my physical health, which in turn deeply impacted my mental health, but here at the end I am finally feeling a little more like myself. New ideas are finding their way out from the part of me that endured, and I’m doing everything I can to make the time to write them down whenever and wherever they occur. I may not post here, but I’ve got a notebook on me at all times and I’m putting pen to paper as often as I can.
Making the best of the time and energy I am afforded every day. Having a chronic illness and coping with daily pain, distress, and fatigue makes it hard to create any new writing or art on a consistent basis, let alone any good writing or art. Still, there are small moments of relief when I am something like myself again and the world can widen beyond this pain. I’m doing everything I can to seize those moments when they come.
Planning a return to my other writing outlets. I’ve long neglected both my newsletter and my other site, Zen and Pi. My newsletter was never very good but I enjoyed writing it and Zen and Pi was becoming something good but that frightened me and I began to avoid it due to pressure. I had pulled all the posts down hoping to go through them one by one with new edits before republishing, but the task has proved quite overwhelming. I’m working out a schedule, a system, and committing myself fully to the writing I know I want to do.
Reading The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination by Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar thought-provoking tome of literary exploration and criticism from a feminist perspective. The book is both fascinating and frustrating to work through, and keeping up with Gibert and Gubar is difficult. It’s not a text for beginners, but I’m trying my best to take it slow and work through the arguments methodically. Luckily, I have my Penguin Little Black Classics Box Set to read when I need a break.
Watching Lovecraft Country, a sci-fi/horror series mixing fantastical monsters and situation with the heart-wrenching pain of navigating the Jim Crow era in America. There is nothing else like it and I highly recommend every one check it out. Each episode is packed with historical nods and Easter eggs, and to help you catch them the Langston League has created a free unofficial syllabus for each episode. In addition, I’m also watching The Vow and old episodes of True Blood, all of which can be streamed on HBO.
Learning not much lately. Most days I have so little in the way of physical energy or mental capacity that trying to add and retain new information is at best exhausting, and on the worst days, impossible. I’d like to get back to it though, and I do have some goals in mind to get there. Two free courses I was taking required some assignments I was unable to finish, but I figure if I focus solely on them, the remaining months of 2020 should be plenty of time even at the leisurely pace I need to finish.
Anticipating a second city wide shut down and a winter quarantine to begin soon. Coronavirus cases are already rising again in many parts of the country and though my district remains open, even the superintendent has expressed a belief that sometime this year the school will revert to 100% remote learning and I will more than likely be furloughed for a time. I am concerned over what that will mean for me financially, but to be honest with you I’m looking forward to a winter quarantine. I don’t feel safe going to work every day right now, and trying to complete my tasks through the thought of such risks is taking a mental toll. I felt better in the spring when all I had to worry about was staying healthy and safe.
Reflecting on the ways I engage with politics and charity and what my role has been and can be toward making this world a better place. Lately I have been feeling both powerless to do anything and guilt-ridden for not doing nearly enough. There are a plethora of community meetings, volunteer opportunities, protests, and place to give money and I have failed to settle or join in any of the work. I feel paralyzed by the daily cruelty and injustice in the world and the sheer amount of work that needs to be done to change any of it, but doing nothing is no longer an option.
Fearing rising tensions as election day approaches. Every election year is tense and the closer we get to America declaring victory for one side or the other the blood boils all along the political spectrum and divides between friends, family, and compatriots deepen but this year feels so much more chaotic, more violent, more frightening than ever. This year the country feels on the verge of a change I am sure will bring a better life for us all, but the path feels fraught with hatred and fear, ready to explode and consume life indiscriminately.
Hating the wildfires raging throughout the western states. I worry about what long-term health impact all this smoke and ash is having on not just my loved ones and me, but on my community, on all the cities and states that have been affected. I’m worried what impact the loss of all those acres of vegetation will have on the climate and in turn how many more acres will burn in the future as a result. I’m worried about the families who have lost their loved ones, their homes, their livelihoods, their hope.
Loving my messy corner of the house and this insignificant little corner of the web and the world. I spent a weekend this month on a purge and organize project of my creativity room. The task isn’t complete by far, but my half of the room (my wife has her own space on the other side of my desk) feels a lot more comfortable and conducive to truly doing some proper writing. And whether or not anything interesting or good comes of this little corner, the point is that it is mine. Just like this little site where what I make and what I share need only be for me. Both spaces are only useful, beautiful, or interesting in so far as I love them and think them so.
Needing some solid signs of hope and healing. I’ve been blessed with a good day or two between all the bad, but progress isn’t really being made and all I’m being told that, for the time being, all I can do. I need a decision to make, an action to take, a path made clear. I need to see some real change. dI know the old me may be long gone and I am ready to accept that as long as I can get on with the work of building a new self, a new life, a new way forward.
Hoping that all the people I know, and even the ones I don’t start to see some improvement in their quality of life too. Nearly everyone I know is going through a tough time right now, and my heart breaks every day for their struggles. I long to fix it all, but all I seem to be able to do is listen and hope, hope, hope. I’m not sure what help that is, but giving up and giving in, even in proxy, feels wrong.
Hope like every emotion leads to action if kept in a sufficiently high state. Hope, like anger, like fear, like joy, fills us with the desire to move and keeping hope alive is the same as keeping at the ready to act once the opportunity presents itself. Hope keeps us from giving up when the way grows dark, dire, and depressing. Hope can literally keep you alive when all other reasons have failed. I keep hope for myself and for everyone I know and those I don’t as a way to keep them moving, growing, and living in my own way.
So, yeah, all in all, September was quite a month. There was plenty to celebrate, but there seemed so much more to bear, to accept, and to struggle through. There was a lot of loss and a lot of work, and no end or answer either way has presented itself. October offers no promises, it seems, only more chance to further endure.
But what about you? Have you found some light, some courage and success through September? What have you learned about yourself during this time of political strife and failure? Have you registered to vote and made a plan to get it done? How have you mourned the losses? How have you kept hope alive?
Let me know in the comments.
The inspiration for these posts comes from Andrea at Create.Share.Love