055 // Sense the Enormity

I woke to the news of Russia invading Ukraine and have been living in a kind of shock since. I know so little about the “why” and I have even less to offer about the “what now?” but I can sense the enormity of the act. It’s so big, but it’s also so far away and there is so much suffering close by that I can’t see past. How can we do it all, fix it all, save them all?

There are dire predictions and grave warnings floating freely across social media timelines today, leaving me overwhelmed, powerless, and, frankly, disappointed in those who aren’t. I hope, as a country, we will do more than center our fears while homes burn and lives are lost half a world away. I hope we will do the right thing, fight on the right side, and for the right reasons this time.

I read something on Twitter this afternoon about the times we are living in being “very, very precedented. I have a feeling that we are all trapped together in a terrible cycle. It’s as if these same dreadful events keep happening again and again. Only the date, and the technology available, changes. We keep living and inflicting the same patterns of pain on one another again, and again, and again.

These past years have worn me down. I can hardly watch the news or think about politics without a low and vague sense of panic I cannot name or place gripping me. Every day is the worst day. Every headline signals the end of life as we know it. I won’t live long enough to fix any of it. Sometimes, it feels like the only thing I can do is focus on loving where I can, being kind where I can, changing one mind of billions at a time, but at that rate, I wonder why it matters?

Then again, as I sit here wondering what love can do, there are those who spread hate and never stop to doubt its power. Hate has done so much damage, why wouldn’t love be capable of as much good or more? Of course it is.

Of course it is!

054 // Wintering

It’s been a biting and bitter cold day, but looking forward through the forecast to next week is keeping me optimistic. Spring is making her first furtive steps toward the front range with warm temperatures and, hopefully, melting these persistent snow mounds for good.

Of course March has always tended or be our snowiest month, so I have doubts as deep as the drifts, but it’s possible, right?

My return to work was rather rough. Besides the cold outside I’m also feeling a little under the weather myself. I suspect a bit of tonsillitis or a bout with my old and familiar nemesis Streptococcus. I took another Covid test thinking I might have actually caught it this time but it was negative again so I went in.

The gloom of missing my wife through her Covid isolation is hanging about too. She’s here, close enough to talk to, to see, to care and feel sorry for, but too far to comfort and find comfort in. It’s hard to hold on to hope what you can’t feel the sun. It’s hard to be grateful with the clouds hanging so low. I’m beginning to lose hope this winter feeling will ever end.

I wish the days felt this long in the Summer. It’s strange how those long hours fly by and the short ones between sunup and sundown drag so. The cold can freeze time too it seems.

053 // Losing Hours

Today is my Sunday and so, I guess you could say I have the Tuesday blues. These hours, though not spent at work, already belong to work. There is nothing I can start for myself because I have to prepare for others. There is nothing I can enjoy because my mind has flown off already exhausted and anxious over the next five days.

It doesn’t help that I rose later than I meant to this morning. The sun warmed me awake early, but I lay in bed stubbornly, defiantly, like a child doing the opposite of what I wanted because it was all I could control. In the end, only I am hurt, and in the end, there is only me to be at times angry with, and at times disappointed in.

Losing a few early hours didn’t used to matter, but more and more, what I’m trading them for feels like a waste. If it were as simple as needing more rest, I may not mind so much, but lately, it’s been me I am fighting with, and I don’t want to fight anymore. I have the time I have and I don’t have the time I don’t. I can’t deny that. I can change it, but I have to accept it first.

This past weekend I’ve also accepted that the apps and algorithms are winning. They are sucking other hours out of my life that I hardly even knew were there before they were gone. So, I’ve set timers for the worst offenders: Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.

When the timer is up, the app lets me know I have to wait until tomorrow for more content and I am released to reclaim my attention. Some might say it shouldn’t take that, but when you have companies spending more money than you can imagine unlocking all your weaknesses, putting in front of you the content they know you can’t turn away from rather than the content you came to see, it takes more than pure willpower to fight back.

On the flip side, I am also experimenting with the timer for apps I want to be on. Those apps I use for reading books, apps for learning a language, and apps for free courses I want to finish all have timers too and I have to stay on them until the timer is up. This helps me to do the work I want, without getting overly focused on one thing to the detriment of everything else I hoped to accomplish.

It’s mid-evening now and I can feel the time left ticking itself away. I’m choosing to be grateful for the extra time I did have away from work. I’m choosing to do at least three things for me before bedtime: write these words, get past a few chapters of my current reads, and, lastly, make a plan for the hours I’ll have tomorrow—a plan free of excuses and regrets.

052 // Small Joys and Strained Gratitude

I woke up early this morning dreading the grocery shopping, the cleaning, and the caretaking. It’s not that I don’t want to do any of it. I’m actually happy to do it. It feels good to do it. It’s only that I am tired and my brain is so full and stretched so thin that I fear a rip, or small breakdown if I can’t find some small escape.

My wife is feeling a bit better. Technically, her Covid isolation ended yesterday, but she still has to wear a well-fitting mask around others until the end of her 10-day possible infections period. So, to be safe, I’ll spend a few more sleepless nights on the couch.

While at the store, I bought her some donuts and some flowers for her bedside. She was happy to get them and it was nice to put a smile on her face. She’s been so hard on herself for contracting Covid in the first place. She’d been so careful, but one night out in a crowded place where masks were a bit impractical was all it took.

I honestly felt it was bound to happen, and I suspect I’ll have my turn with the virus soon enough. I suspect we all will. The federal response and imposed restrictions were so haphazard and half-assed that we never really had any hope of containment. But that was never really the goal anyway, was it? I think all we really strove to do was keep panic at bay. We wanted the virus to spread as quietly as possible so that capitalism and consumerism would be minimally disrupted.

But the missteps of my government and my own lack of control are too much to bear thinking over for too long. All I can hope for these days are small joys and strained gratitude. My little life is as far as I can comfortably contemplate.

051 // I Got This

We’ve had many warm days these past few weeks, and in typical Colorado fashion, we’ve had some of the coldest and snowiest yet too. Today is one of the many warm ones, but it feels like the first to carry a genuine sense of spring in the air. It’s the first where the warmth did more than comfort. Today’s sun has me up, moving, and motivated.

The usual Sunday chores are underway, but at a much more relaxed pace than usual. The holiday tomorrow means I don’t have to worry about work, and more than that, I took Tuesday off too. All my anxieties are days away, leaving me with a rare Sunday of peace and contentment. A Sunday that belongs fully to me, to right now.

There will be plenty of time for me. My wife is getting through the last of her Covid-19 quarantine and with her stuck in the bedroom and me stuck out here, there isn’t much more I want to do than think, write, and read.

We are grateful that her symptoms are mild, that we have good jobs that offer paid time off, and that I am able, finally, to do more for us than I ever could before. I am well. I have been working on my driving anxiety, and I am happy to take care of her for a change.

I’ve spent almost all my adult life feeling like half a person and a less than adequate partner. It’s refreshing to see the proof of how much I have grown and to see the relief in someone’s eyes when they know they can count on me—that I got this!

Our weekend trip had to be canceled, and I have been on the couch for much of the week, but it’s all okay. Yeah, I’m bored and lonely, and a little worried, but somehow it really wasn’t a terrible weekend at all. I’m looking forward to making up the time together. I’m looking forward to my own bed and sharing responsibilities again. I’m looking forward to knowing, not just hoping, that she will be okay.