It’s been a while since the house has felt quiet enough for me to sit and write. It’s been even longer since I was calm enough to gather my thoughts. This last week was hard on me with classes to teach every day and some new crisis waiting when I was done.
I can see light at the end of the tunnel though as I take a short break from training and I start recognizing which problems belong to me and which ones don’t.
This weekend I’m taking it easy and reminding myself, and everyone else if I need to, that there is so little time left after work and sleep, meals and chores, that I must be selfish and keep some of it aside for myself. I must be mindful of what my time is meant for and guard it stubbornly against those who ask too much and push too hard.
I’m learning to set boundaries, which isn’t all that hard and practicing communicating those boundaries which is far from easy.
I don’t shy from confrontation normally, but I’m slow to initiate it not out of fear but out of doubt. I never know if my perspective is the right one and I have trouble believing my needs are reasonable. My heart tells me I expect too much and my mind agrees and asks me to understand and endure a little more, a little more, a little more…
But I’m running out of energy, both physically and emotionally, and finding it harder and harder to relax and rejuvenate. The harder life gets, the more I need back to feel motivated and enthusiastic. I think I just need more to look forward to. I need more to happen.
Of course, that part is actually the part that is in my control and that makes it an absolutely terrifying problem to solve, but doing nothing is no longer an option. Through mindfulness, self-love, and action-based optimism, I think I can get there. I can get somewhere. I can make more of my life my own.
My living room is looking a little chaotic right now. My wife and I started a new “weekend project” that I have a feeling is going to take a lot longer than a couple of days: replace our very old and very broken evaporative cooler with a small “through the wall” air conditioning unit.
We got the old swamp cooler out, but it was a lot harder than we thought and required calling in help. Of course once it was out we learned it had never been properly installed in the wall and found a bit of mold had been growing in the wall as a result. We also found out that the new sleeve is too big and the new unit doesn’t exactly match. We’re going to have to cut a larger hole, build a frame, and make some adjustments to the installation instructions to make the unit fit. We’ve got to make it work, though. Wish us luck.
I’d hoped for more time to write, but this is so important. We cannot, we will not, spend another miserable summer roasting in our own home. I have a feeling between this and my upcoming work schedule, my writing projects will (once again) have to be put off. I’m not doing nothing though. I’ve been forming ideas and jotting down what I hope will be seeds of future pieces.
We’re living in a very inspiring time and right now I have a chance to pursue new ideas and ways of thinking and seeing from so many thinkers, speakers, writers, activists, and causes before I settle down to focus on one idea at a time. It feels right to focus on input over output right now and there is so much being offered for free right now. Here’s a short list I’ve put together:
I’m compiling a longer TBR list of books by authors of color to follow and being mindful of who I follow on social media. I’m seeking people and ideas that inspire me to think, write, and act. There is nothing more important in the world than the change I know we can affect right now and it has to start inside each of us. I’m already so different from the version of myself that began this year, we all are, and rather than lament it I’m leaning in. I may very well be unrecognizable by year’s end.
I’m back at my usual location and time at work. It’s another easy day but I’m anxious both about my classes next week and about the changes that are happening and the uncertainty beyond them. I had a plan for how to distribute my time and energy between work and outside of work but slowly my superiors are make changes and there is a steady increase of hours and responsibilities and it’s getting harder and harder to establish balance.
I’m also tense because of the continued protests. I support the protests of course and I even go so far as supporting the call to defund and disband police departments but I work in a place where opinions are very different and though I haven’t heard anything I have found offensive I spend much of the day bracing myself for the possibility.
On top of that I have my own anger, and grief, and guilt, and helplessness. I can’t unsee that video of George Floyd’s death, not that I want to. That video, though disturbing and distressing, made me aware of how little I have done for my part against police brutality and all the structural obstacles and bias that leads and feeds it. I can’t stop thinking about it.
Part of it is not knowing my own small place in all of this. I know what I believe but I don’t know what I can claim. I know the work is mine to do but I don’t know where to begin. I have so much I’d like to say but I feel reluctant to speak up in fear that my voice is not welcome. My own history around race is charged and confusing and even if I can’t affect change in others I feel more motivated than ever to at least unpack the way the racist history of this country has made its impact on me.
Perhaps that small contribution can be part of the collective healing too.
In addition to the aforementioned fatigue that has been plaguing me and two nights in a row of staying up much, much later than I should, I took an allergy pill a coworker gave me this morning and find myself ready to fall asleep where I stand.
I’m growing increasingly irritated at the inconvenience of a day job and angry at having to force myself awake. I’ve had three espressos and seen zero signs of improvement and have resorted to walking around the building outside hoping to keep the blood flowing to my brain. I’m doing everything I can to outpace the drowsiness creeping into my limbs but I just need to sleep.
I’ll head home in just a few hours and do my best to squeeze in a catnap and a late lunch before I’m off to help my mom with a few things. I’m already looking forward to the evening when I’m back home. The plan is to crack a beer, eat something bad for me, and head right to bed.