Today was a good writing day, but only because it was allowed to be an entirely unproductive work day. My bosses are often understanding of the need for days of rest and relief, days where there are no expectations, only time to take care of self or reconnect with the team. Today was one such day.
I wrote a new “Currently” post for the first time all year and tried my hand at drafting the first newsletter I’ve sent in years. I also shared a letter I wrote over a week ago to someone very dear to me. Between those pieces and these recent journal entries, a lot has been released. I’m lighter than I’ve felt in weeks.
The weekend looks busy from here, but instead of focusing on the tasks and to-dos I’m looking forward to getting back to rising before the sun and spending a few quiet hours over a cup of strong coffee and the lit up keys of my laptop. I’m looking forward to more writing.
Returning to written words has been like returning to an old friend, picking up where I left off and going on as if I’d never left. It’s a relief to be so accepted, to be loved back by something you thought had stopped loving you.
This was an email subject line from the marketing team at Headspace—a meditation app I’m an avid user of. The email itself wasn’t very interesting, but the subject line did catch my eye. It made me wonder what does my mind need right now?
At that moment I didn’t know the answer, but I did know I was in deep need of something. So, I spent the day working out what I needed instead of wasting energy giving others what I thought they wanted of me.
Today I wasn’t as outgoing. I didn’t laugh or talk as much. I didn’t get sucked into conversations or cares that didn’t serve me and what my mind needed today.
I read. I wrote some. I deleted all my tweets older than one year on a whim. I ate. I took my medication. I drank water. I walked in the sun and I talked to my wife on her lunch break. These are things that bring me joy and fill me with a sense of purpose. I filled my day with them and made this day a good one.
It feels good to have some control over my mood and my doings. Tomorrow may be totally different. Tomorrow will probably be totally different. I may have fewer choices and chances to make what I will of my time, but the fact that I saw the opportunity today and seized it is certainly something to be proud of.
I woke to rain still falling this morning. I normally hate the rain, but right now it’s comforting to have the skies mirror my mood. I’m imagining the world is trying to comfort me, to show me it understands, to give me space to feel whatever I feel without judgement.
The universe has been piling the pain on lately. Each day seems to bring some new heartache, but I’m learning that if you look hard enough, each day brings its own joys and successes too. They are just harder to see and it takes many more of them to outweigh the same quantity of bad, but the more you look the more you see and the more of those little goods you collect the easier the heartbreaks become to bear.
One step back, sure, but two steps forward always follow and in the end, it’s progress all the same. I welcome today’s ups and downs and anxiously await tonights totaling.
It’s going to be an unusually busy day, but that’s ok. One day out of all the rest of the week isn’t too much for me to give and anyway I still have my evenings and early mornings and the rest of the week looks brighter and more hopeful from here. I just have to deal with right now. Not “get through it”. I don’t want to waste my life anymore “getting through it”. I want to face it, fix it, finish it and move on to an ever better and better and better right nows.
They are getting closer day by day. I can almost feel them.
Winter weather has finally given way to spring storms. The clouds have rolled in and the rain is forecasted to stick around for at least the next days or two. The weather experts are calling this our first severe storm of the year. I’m excited by the prospect of high winds and hail, and I’ve missed the sound of rolling thunder for half a year now, but I can’t help wishing for the sun. I’ve needed light and warmth more than ever lately.
But the truth is, the sun and the whole bog blue sky is still there, even when I can’t see it. There is space that exists above the storms, above the cold, above all the drear and drab. There is warmth even if it can’t reach me, and even if it can’t reach me today that has nothing to do with how the air will feel on my skin tomorrow, and it by no means stops me from bringing yesterdays blue skies along to warm me whenever I need.
As for the work of life, it’s easier today. I’m more rested than I have been in days, and my mood is stable. I’m a little anti-social but not angry or avoidant. I’m only reflective and taking life all too seriously and days like this tend to put me at odds with the general public and their little whims and worries.
Writing is coming easier and easier. I feel myself slowly getting back into my old groove. The scheduled hour of “real writing” is proving to be helpful in some surprising ways. Not only does it get me to do the hard part at least once a day, it makes it easier to get other things like these journal entries, post drafting, image searching, commenting, curation, and tweaking appearance or making customizations without feeling guilty.
It turns out that knowing what to do and when is half the battle. Once you make it that far, the rest just takes a small dose each of courage, focus, and dedication to get you the rest of the way.
I’m on shaky emotional ground this morning though this morning isn’t out of what I am calling the new newnew normal.
The thought occurred to me on the way to work this morning that there is just never enough time to do all the crying you need. I know this sounds rather sad, but I don’t mean it that way. I’m ok, but sometimes getting through life, enduring this incurable thing we call the human condition, just requires an occasional emotion cleansing. I’m long overdue and in desperate need.
Perhaps, like all things in our time of high productivity and unbridled consumerism, it has to be scheduled. Time blocked, with reminders on and timers set. Time between meetings, errands, meals, visits with family and friends, dinner, dishes, and bedtime to put on a sad song and let your heart truly break for yourself, your loved ones, and the whole world of struggle and suffering.
Time to mourn and time to grieve. Time to lament all that time that’s been wasted, the time that’s been lost, the time we’ll never even have. Time to wish and regret. Time to be angry, to be confused, and simply to be sad.
We work so hard to avoid all those weak, negative, and useless emotions, but I don’t believe we truly ever rid ourselves of them. They bubble below the surface, waiting for the most insignificant and insidious trigger to jump out and surprise us.
No, better to find time to feel them regularly. Better to make time or it will happen when you least want it to, I promise. And don’t worry, after you’ve screamed it out and soaked your shirt with tears, you’ll do the same thing we all do. You’ll take a good look in the mirror and remember who you are, where you are, and what must be done. You’ll clean yourself up and get on with the hard work of living life from emotional purge to emotional purge, as if neither the pain nor the purge ever happened.
Until I can make time though, I’m trying to remember that though life is generally stressful and often terrifying right now, not every minute is made of chaos and catastrophe. There can be—no, there are—moments of calm, security, and even joy. It’s hard to seize them when they come along, though. I guess when you are carrying the past with one hand and clinging to the future with the other, there’s nothing left for you to hold the present with, you know?
You ever have one of those days where outwardly the world appears calm, everyone you love is collected, and all of your problems are neatly under control, and yet beneath it all you sense a black and simmering chaos that you cannot reach? On days like these all you can do is watch and wait for that inevitable eruption of darkness, and it is this watching and waiting, not the bubbling chaos itself, that fills you with a vague dread for which there is no cure.
Or perhaps there is? I tried coffee and yard work today, then watching a stupid show and taking a short nap, and suddenly I can see the sun and tomorrow doesn’t seem so dreadful. I feel better, but I also don’t. I suppose it’s another paradox of life, or maybe only of my life as it is right now.
There is something about that dreadful and bubbling chaos that feels almost good.
The fragility of the world is never far from my thoughts lately and “ends”—my end, the many ways life as I know it could end, the end of the humanity, the end of the world, the cold and distant end of the universe—are weighing on my heart but, strangely, I have never felt so alive either.
It’s been so long since I’ve been walking mindlessly through life from work to home to bed to work to home and bed again and again and again, but I’m not mindless anymore. I’m awake. I’m aware. A sudden truth has come to the forefront of my mind and it won’t be shoved back again so easily. I’m hurting more, but I’m living more and I cannot make sense of it except that to avoid any one part of life is to neutralize it all to endless grey monotony.
You are alive, but it is only the barest kind of life. You are content, but you are not happy. You are safe, but all sense of self and meaning have been removed. You will have your years, but you will not grow. This, right now, is a lesson.
This is my first morning in a long time getting up with the sun, making a cup of hot coffee, and sitting alone in a space that makes me feel free and motivated. It’s only the end of the kitchen table, but it’s quiet, it’s clean, and it’s mine for now.
I’m trying this writing thing. I’m not good at it. I don’t mean the words; I mean the focus it takes. I mean the discipline. Even this early, with nothing going on and nothing to force me away from myself, I can still find so much distraction and procrastination. Even this post is a kind of avoidance, though I’m calling it a warm up.
I have the draft open though, and I have my body where it needs to be. I have a timer at the ready and a notepad to write down all the things my mind wants to do instead so that it might not feel neglected, defensive, or demanding. I will get to the to-do list, the pets and plants, the news, Twitter and TV in time, but not right now.
It’s a strange morning. I’m working from a different location and the change in schedule is sending my anxiety levels sky high. I’m proud of the work I’ve done and the coping skills I’ve learned to calm and care for myself. I validate my thoughts and fears. I give myself space to feel. I can sit with the feeling without being overwhelmed. I can leap into action to put in place plans to ease my mind.
It didn’t used to be this easy. It still isn’t but I can see now that it gets easier every day. Maybe this is what they mean when they say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Each fear, each failure, leads to a new insight, and each insight leads to a new strategy, a new way to win against yourself. I just wish there wasn’t always a new battle to fight.
I read a great post over on Brevity this morning, and it’s got me feeling inspired to write again. It’s started with these little journal entries and some reviews and personal essay drafts I’ve begun in the last few weeks. I have a list of posts on Are.na where I can collect quotes and webpages. I have everything started, but that’s all I’ve got, a start.
But I’d like to try the actual writing part again. I’d like to simply schedule time to sit down for an hour a day (three or four over the weekend) and plug away at them one post after another. No talking, no cleaning, no social media, nothing but writing. I have the time, all I need is the discipline.
And like the post said, “I’m slow and it’s okay. It’s all going to be okay. I can do this.” There are no other goals or expectations to meet. There is no one I have to be better than. There is no one to impress. The goal is only to write until the time is up, no matter the subject or the pace or the skill level I’m at.
Time heals. That’s a truth. Time also hurts, and that’s a truth too. I welcome both realities. Sometimes I reject both too.
Seeing others struggle now has me looking back on my life to a time I don’t often return to. I’m ashamed, I realize, of my mental health struggles and I feel compelled to hide those old pains and wounds. I was so irrational, so weak, so wrong about so many things. So I buried it all. Why burden myself or others with what’s long past? Why reveal so much vulnerability and failure? Who does it help, if it helps at all?
The one profound good I fear is missing from my life is living in Truth. Omission is a form of dishonesty, and dishonesty is an insidious kind of infection. It pretends to be a cure and all the while it goes on killing. We hurt because we hide.
But it’s a different time now, not my time naturally but a time I can claim if I can muster the courage and the want. I deserve what we all deserve, to be whole.
I’ve attempted to return to some semblance of normalcy today, but no matter how hard I tried to put on the same old face and take the same old steps through my life, nothing felt anything near normal, but it turns out, I’m feeling exactly what I need to feel right now and like all things there is a lesson to glean.
The way I see it from here, normalcy is what lead to complacency, and complacency was the contributing factor that lead to disaster. I don’t think I ever want to be that comfortable again. I don’t want to think this or that can’t happen, this or that is completely safe, or that this or that is all taken care of.
There must be more diligence. There must be more thoughtfulness and courage to tackle what might be scary or uncomfortable. Time has to be made for hard conversations, deep understanding, radical love, and drastic measures. Time has to be made to for feeling, giving, guiding, and receiving.
I’ve been thinking a lot about bravery lately and all the ways it can manifest from person to person. There is so much I am afraid of, but there are worse outcomes than even I can imagine. Seeing what others have to endure and overcome and seeing the courage it takes to do so fills me with both shame and determination myself.
Since my birthday passed, I’ve been thinking a lot about my age too and how slowly my time is becoming a “different time”. I compare my life, interests, pursuits, and values to the changing world around me and more and more the two sides don’t add up. I feel left behind and I know deep down it was because I grew up in a “different time”, a time I realize now failed me miserably.
But I want to change too, and I think it isn’t as hard as people make it out to be. I don’t want to be this time’s failure as others were to me in mine.