A dense fog has fallen over the city, making the morning mysterious and dreamy, and making me contemplative and deliberate.
This is one of those days where focus comes easy. It’s the kind of day you want to spend alone with your thoughts and your work. It’s a good writing kind of day, and I am lucky that there will be time to match the motivation.
My mornings are slowly returning to a calmer and more effective routine. I’ve been able to get up with my alarm two days in a row, and for the first time in almost a month I had some time to meditate. Watching that run streak turn over from zero to one brought back that old excitement and sense of accomplishment, but it also brought back that old sense of anxiety.
I wish these kinds of apps didn’t track your “days in a row”. I know why they do it. That anxiety I feel is what keeps me logging in, watching ads, or paying subscription fees, but it isn’t good for morale. That counter will keep you coming back until the one day when you inevitably “fail”. Then it’s only all that much harder to come back to your good habits.
I tell myself that the numbers don’t really matter, that a day away here and there is okay. What matters is the effort. You don’t fail until you fail to try again.
The weather is finally warming, though we’re forecasted to hover near freezing for the rest of the week. Next week is looking a lot more spring-like, and I’m reminded that having something to look forward to is all it takes to muster a little optimism.
Many of my coworkers are enjoying a four-day weekend, and though I’m expected to head into the office, it will at least be an easy and early day. I’m assisting with a CPR class, which mostly means I’m on mannequin disinfecting duty. It sounds worse than it is. In fact, I often prefer these quiet, solitary tasks to team work.
The early day means more time to write. Nothing profound is coming to mind today, but a few unfinished pieces are a few awkward paragraphs closer to done. I just have to get back into my old groove, but I know that as long as I have been out of it, is as long as it may take to get back in.
Writing is my passion, but it isn’t easy. It isn’t always fun, and it doesn’t always feel good. The joy is in “having written” but it’s a lot of misery getting there.
My heart goes out to the millions in Texas dealing with freezing temperatures, power outages, and water shut-offs. My little sister is among those being affected, and I’m wracked with worry for her. Her power has been out for over 30 hours and she resorted to staying in her car for warmth as all the hotels in the area are booked.
I hope everyone can find a warm place to sleep tonight My sister has friends to go but I know there will be many out there who don’t have loved ones to take them in.
Today has been a lazier day than I meant for it to be. I keep forgetting the week has technically already begun, and so should I. These holidays away from work always feel like extra Sundays rather than what they should be: time to begin the work rather than more time to rest.
From now on, I want these long weekends will be extra time for my personal pursuits rather than time to push off uncomfortable tasks.
From now on, I want my thinking to be long term oriented. I want the promise of a better tomorrow to be enough to get me out of bed, off the couch, and out from in front of the TV today. I want to be stronger than the temptations of right now.
Mindfulness will play a big part. I should be asking myself in the moments of listlessness and laziness, “what is important right now?” or even, “what do I need right now”?
Because sometimes I do need to rest and sometimes I do deserve a little time to sleep, scroll timelines, or watch another episode, but there has to be balance. There has to be time when what I need is to do the hard thing. There has to be time when the work is for me..
I received my first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine this morning. I arrived over twenty minutes early for my appointment and 10 minutes before they were scheduled to begin vaccinating and there was already a line winding through the entire second floor and down the stairs. I overheard a few of the nurses saying they would give over 500 shots just that day!
The process was efficient and painless, by far the easiest vaccine I have ever received in my life. I hardly even felt the jab! Afterward, I was congratulated and sent to wait in a room with around 20 other vaccine recipients to be monitored for severe reaction. I left with nothing more than a slight soreness in the upper arm and a lightness in my chest as a little of the fear I’d been carrying for over a year now lifted.
I’m thankful to be among the first to receive the vaccine due entirely to my occupation employment with a school district. I wish more of my loved ones would be eligible sooner rather than later, but besides my wife (who works for another school district) I will be the only one in my immediate family to be vaccinated until at least the summer.
I really wish the vaccine had been developed, approved, and distributed on a schedule just a month or even weeks faster. Maybe my grandmother would still be here. Maybe a lot of people would still be here…
I can’t let myself think like that, though. It’s hard enough living through the pandemic, and through winter, and without all the little things and people that used to bring me so much joy, without the addition of what ifs, regrets, and anger. I’ll save that for the summer.
The biggest question I walked away with after my vaccine, the one no one has an answer to yet, is how long the vaccine is effective for? I worry about losing immunity without knowing. I worry about variants that might outpace not only the vaccine but treatments too. I worry that this novel coronavirus will be with us a lot longer than we think, and with it that heavy burden of fear too.
It’s been nearly a year now since anything has felt normal and I feel like I’m beginning to forget what that old life, that old sense of joy and community, used to feel like.
There were some new glimmers of hope this week. A much missed coworker returned, small snatches of lost focus and passion were felt, and I scheduled my first dose of the COVID vaccine for this weekend. Perhaps just over the horizon is the relief I have been longing for since this time nearly a year ago. Perhaps things will finally get better this time.
Or perhaps things have only begun to feel better with time. It’s been so long since I was myself and life was the old normal that the new normal has become simply the normal normal now.
Albert Camus wrote in The Stanger: “After a while you could get used to anything.” I really believe that is true. Humans feel happiness or misery by contrasts, and the available emotions are growing quite flat. Or maybe it’s only that a small subset of emotions has overwhelmed and engulfed nearly the entirety of everyday life, leaving nothing for the personal pains of ordinary human existence.
My little losses, though great to me, are only drops in the ocean of despair we’re all swimming in, and somehow that makes it even harder to process. My pain blends into the background. My pain hardly even exists.
I wonder, once we are through with this great collective and connective grieving we’re going through now, if there might be an equally weighty but personal and private grief waiting behind it for each of us to bear alone?
I’ve been feeling stuck again. I’ve been feeling lost and when I go in search of direction by retreating into my mind expecting to meet that old chatter of questions and conversation I used to hear nearly constantly, I’m instead met with near complete silence.
I cry out into that dark ether asking: Is anyone is there? Can anyone can hear me? Can anyone can help me?
In response, I catch only fragments. Parts and pieces of sentences and thoughts with no context or meaning I can decipher. I think all the parts and personalities I’m made of are tired. I’m physically, emotionally, spiritually exhausted.
And I am sure I’m not the only one. The pandemic coupled with never ending political infighting has left us all groping not just for meaning, but connection and change too. Something has to get better and in order for that to happen, someone has to give sometime.
We’d all hoped 2021 would bring the relief without requiring the usual work. We deserved it after all, right? I know I felt I did, but it turns out the new year has not meant a magical new me and certainly not a magical new life.
Of course I knew this deep down, but I will admit I expected at least one thing to get better. Instead, everything has only gotten worse and worse.
No, I don’t really think that’s true. I’ve just become far too focused on the negatives and blind to all the positives. I have so much love and support that even if times are a bit stressful and I’m turning into a bit of a mess, at least there are hands to hold the load with me. At least there is love to lift me back up.
Life is getting easier day by day. I woke up with more energy than I’ve had in weeks, though the various aches and pains are still present. I was able to mark a few things off my to do list, catch up in my journal and planner, and make time for a podcast or two.
Of course, it all took twice as long as I needed frequent breaks to rest and refocus my mind. This may be my new normal going forward, at least until I can get my physical and emotional strength back to where I was—or better!
Over the past weeks I’ve added and adjusted an extensive and strict schedule of medication, meals, and supplements that I hope will lead to not just continued but accelerated healing. It’s a lot to keep track of. It’s a lot of pills and powders. It’s setting alarms and timers and goals. It’s keeping track of every meal and ounce of liquid that passes your lips or passes out of you.
Chronic illness is has become more than a condition, or a burden, slowly, it’s becoming a perspective, a lifestyle, an identity.
I had a bad morning, but I don’t want to write about that. I don’t want my whole day defined by it. A week, a month, a year from now I don’t want to look back and remember only what went wrong.
There is still good to find and still good to do. The blue sky is always there.
The core of the issue is my recent struggle to wake up with my alarm, before the sun and the rest of the house. Waking with everyone else means sharing my time and space and I like having time to call my own and space I can do whatever I want however I want.
But these hours of peace are actually about so much more than being in silence or being alone. These hours are made of more than intangible time, they are physical, solid, and substantial too. I can feel them as space. I can touch them, hold them, and run my fingers and my mind through them.
I’m in love with the tranquility that the morning twilight brings before the day’s activities and expectations begin and being away from it for these past few weeks has left me guilt ridden and, in a way, lonely.
Without those hours there is no time in which I can find to connect deeply with myself, the one who knows and understands me best.
I lost someone I love very much yesterday. A woman who was greatly influential in the course of my life. A woman who, without that influence, I may not be here. Maybe not in this space specifically, and maybe not at all.
This woman, an only child who founded a family totalling in the several dozens at least in children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. I was her first grandchild, and she was not ashamed to call me her favorite. I acknowledge the unfairness of my status and I admit fully the joy this privilege brought me my entire life.
This woman showed me the purest love I have ever known. It was a love that had no expectation. A love as close to unconditional as this world has ever seen. I could do no wrong in her eyes and somehow that only made me want to try harder to be good, to be better, to just be me.
I wish everyone could have that kind of love in their lives. I wish everyone could have a vibrant, wild, kind, funny, and wise grandmother like mine. I wish I could have felt that kind of love for a bit longer myself.
Today is a new day! Today a weight left my chest, and a tension left my shoulders. I’m a little less afraid. I’m a little less angry. I’m a little less hopeless.
Today there is a new leader of the free world was sworn in and he is one whose values and vision for this country and its many and diverse peoples are closer to something that looks like progress, unity, care, and compassion.
I’ve been waiting four long years and to be honest, I had so little faith in my fellow compatriots that I still can’t believe it happened.
I don’t believe everything will be peace and perfection for the next four years. Neither Biden nor Harris were my top choices to take the reins and lead us through this time of recovery and resolution, but the more I have thought about it and the more I have considered strategy, I think the best candidates won in the end.
The office of the presidency should be one of centrism. The President, after all, must represent all Americans and not just the right Americans, the real Americans, the Americans who elected him and constantly threaten his political future.
Biden wasn’t the right choice for me, but I have a feeling he’s the right choice for us all.