All year I have struggled to read through even a few pages at a time of the books marked for this year, but these past few days I’ve been completely absorbed by The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk. I suppose I have always had an affinity for these kinds of books, the ones that put into words what I have been trying my whole life through blogs and journals to describe. This book, in just the first few chapters, has given me more words than any book before.
I’ve been on a journey to discover how exactly I survived so much and how I have been lastingly changed by both my traumas and my responses. The healing in many ways has been as lonely, confusing, and painful as the hurting, and it isn’t over yet. It isn’t ever over.
Acceptance has gotten me far and by simple accident and incredible chance I was able to find safe people and create safe spaces to reboot and reconnect the parts of myself that were utterly obliterated. If I didn’t know better, I would believe miracles existed.
The more I am absorbed by this reading, the more reabsorbed I become with writing. My pocket notebook is back in hand and the pages are filling with insight and hope. This little black book is now at least half-filled with fragments of perspective and reflection, and my hope has always been that these pieces will become a larger body of work one day.
Beyond the self-discovery and the new age of healing, and my renewed ability to wordsmith, I’ve relearned that the key to reading fervently is by finding books that speak to me rather than forcing myself through books I think I should read. Finding books that you are ready for isn’t easy. You stumble upon them and through them realize you needed them. I’m revisiting the advice of Austin Kleon that I fought so hard to accept: “Quit reading books you don’t like.”
I want to read books that I don’t like so I fight and fight and fight to finish them, but maybe putting a book down doesn’t have to mean putting it down forever. The book might not be for me today, but tomorrow? Next week? In a year? Maybe. Put down books you don’t like, but pick them back up again when you become the version of yourself that needs them.
Wintery weather has arrived here in Colorado and along with it my usual irritability and listlessness. I’ve never liked cold weather or snow and I dislike it all the more when it blows in during what is the last of warmth, sunshine, and freedom is left of the season. Watching the grey clouds move in and the rain slowly turn over to sleet, and knowing it will become flakes before lunch, is only souring my mood further and further.
It doesn’t help that nothing I did this morning seemed to go according to plan. I had a class to teach and despite showing up almost an hour early to prepare; I ran into every set back I possibly could.
Equipment was missing, paperwork was missing, and I ran into technical difficulties. Class started late and I fear I looked very unorganized, unprepared, and unprofessional. My three greatest professional fears.
Still, the setbacks didn’t last long. I eventually found everything I needed and help showed up to resolve the technical problems. Class got underway, and I even made up for the late start before the end of the day.
All in all, though, it turned out to be kind of a good day. I am feeling somewhat better than I have been, with a little less pain and a little more energy. I get these good days here and there, but they are always followed by steep backslides into misery and fatigue. That’s ok though. The worst of today is long over and I have already cleared tomorrow’s agenda of work and obligations so I can get plenty of rest.
The fatigue has returned. The day was easy on me and the people around me were understanding and undemanding and still I struggled to keep up. I crave sleep and where I couldn’t get it I at least craved solitude and silence. I got neither but thank God for headphones. At least I could tune out the undesirable and listen to music to music to match my mood.
I spent a lot of time reading in the afternoon. I made the mistake of trying to read four different books at once in a desperate attempt to make up as much lost ground in my reading goals as I can, but I am beginning to doubt the strategy. Not because I don’t like the books, or because I feel overwhelmed, but because now all I want to spend my time doing is reading those books. I suppose there are worse ways to waste time.
The evening is better. My wife and I cooked dinner together, something new, savory, satisfying. Tonight feels like another Sunday, not rushed, not stressful, and tomorrow the week will be a day closer to done.