There isn’t anything left to say. My hope has waned to nearly nothing, and now I must cope with what was once shock and indignation but has grown and spread with each tragedy into an overwhelming rage I worry I may lose hold of.
It isn’t just the news of 19 children killed today, or even the mass shootings that happened only last week, or the babies that we have no formula for, or the withering rights of women, or the pandemic we are pretending never happened, or just ended, or both, or the wages in free fall and the masses drowning under the cost of living, or even the threat of war.
More than all that—and wouldn’t all that be enough?—it’s the resounding and remorseless silence I can’t stand. I’m not sure if my sanity is slipping, or if I am among the few left who can still think clearly. I feel trapped between what I know is right and what the utter evil I am forced to live with.
It is absurd to think we can reconcile the carnage on our screens and the callousness of our leaders and their supporters, who have measured what a life is worth and judged each a mere trifle. It’s all utterly absurd! I didn’t think we would let it happen again, and now there is nowhere left to put my grief. And mine isn’t even much! Don’t ask me to fathom what those parents are going through, and all those children…
How can I sleep tonight? How will anyone ever again?
But the terrible truth is I will, and tomorrow I will go to work, and in a week I, like much of the American public, will simply forget—while we can. What else can I do? How else can we live? What does that say about me? What does that say about us all?
The worst thing about human beings is not what we will do, but what we will live with.
Monday finds me fatigued and frayed with anxiety. It’s been several nights since I’ve slept well and several weeks or more of what are probably elevated stress levels. The only thing keeping me going is knowing I’m already in the tunnel and if I don’t want to be stuck here, I have to keep going to the end. The only out is through, you know?
To help, I’m insisting on time for myself. No matter that the time never seems to come packaged in hours but only ever in moments between expectations and obligations, between tasks and to-dos, between the things people need from me and the person they need me to be. No matter how little or how scattered, theses moments are mine.
And what am I doing with my time? Nothing as productive as I wish. Today, it turns out, is one of those “input days“. What I mean is, I’m doing a lot of sifting through collected articles and images, sorting and sharing them where they should go. I
I used to consider days like these lost or useless days. I used to think it was pur procrastinating or lack of willpower on my part, These articles, quotes, videos, and images are to my writing like paint is to an artist, and this sifting and sorting is like mixing colors.
Days like this are for reconnecting with what interests me, re-sparking my creativity, and remixing concepts that at the time of their discovery were concise and contained within their own realms but since have become blurred and blended in the deep and dark recesses of my subconscious.
This is the work I do now, and it’s essential to the work I want to do, eventually.
The weather has turned gloomy and cold outside and my mood has almost no chance of improving from yesterday. I still haven’t found a way out of this funk. I’m still irritable and down. I’m on the edge and everything feels like too much, or not right, or bothersome. I don’t want to do anything but not doing anything makes me feel, at best, guilty, and, at worst, angry, with myself and whoever happens to be around.
A lot of it might be because I skipped my morning walk. I forgot how much I need the fresh air and the perspective during these times. The little route around the neighborhood is a kind of walking meditation now, especially since I make sure not to take my phone out or put my headphones in. Those 20 minutes spent unplugged front the world mean more than I realized.
Then again, maybe it isn’t the walk, or maybe the walk is only part of it, a symptom of something much bigger.
Maybe I thought going back to work would help, and it turns out that having nothing at all to do but sit at home and go to work is worse than just sitting home. Maybe giving over all my energy and capacity to my coworkers and our simple duties left me with nothing for myself. Maybe the combination of isolation and loneliness coupled with increased fear and anxiety may just have pushed me over the edge of hopelessness and melancholy.
Maybe I’ve lost a sense of importance and purpose of my job over these past few months. My work is not essential and with everything going on the risk hardly seems worth it right now, for any of us. Maybe I’m a little angry too at being asked to come back before there are concrete answers about the virus and the future.