It’s been a weird few months. Not to say it’s been bad, quite the contrary, it’s been great! I’ve learned so very much and had the support of wonderful people. But, it’s also been a crazy type of stressful. And now, sitting in the debris from the whirlwind owlishly looking around, it leaves me in an odd state of mind.
Apathy isn’t the right word. It’s more like an ultra aggressive ennui. I’ll have a list of things I need to do, and then I will work really hard on something completely unrelated and unimportant. Like vacuuming, this blog post, or playing with the cat until it falls over. Though, to be honest, that last one isn’t too hard. He’s still quite fat.
As a writer, that’s not the best of things, but it’s also not a whole lot different than the last few years. I get some work done, I submit here and there, but I haven’t actually pushed towards it…ever. And I don’t really know why.
As a teacher, it’s something I can channel into lessons. Focusing on the process, working towards something greater, pushing ever forward into the shining day. Continual and slight progress resulting in eventual change – that whole song and dance.
It’s a good dance, I click my heels.
Except, y’know, there are so very many times that’s not what it feels like at all.
It feels more like consistently, and with great purpose, slamming my head into a wall over and over. Each time I tell myself the impact will be different. But then I hit the wall and realize the NEXT one is going to be different.
Imagine you’re sitting in a quiet room watching everyone else walk by. It’s a nice room, a comfortable chair, and you even have surprisingly good coffee. But there’s this weird, tickling, whisper of a thought. “would anyone notice if I wasn’t here.” Not in a dramatic and important way. But just the trailing trickle of thought asking if my presence in this space altering the lives of the people sharing it with me?
And before you get all weird about it, I mean by getting them to laugh or getting a great sweat on. Not in a “who was that man with no pants, talking to a donut” kind of way.
I mean, I do that too. But generally not around people. Unless you’re lucky enough to be my wife.
It’s something I think about a lot. Because the purpose of life is to make ripples. To have an effect, to create a type of experiential vortex that brings other people in and creates memories.
But sometimes that is So. Incredibly. Difficult.
Five-Thirty shows up most mornings now, I don’t ask it to. I even try to beat it to the punch by staying up until wee hours, but I still get to meet it, or it’s other, less social friends 4:45 and 3:15. They all hang out and mock me with the excessively cheery numbers on the clock that Lia left with me. She mentioned it would be nice. All it really does it let me define the insomnia to a new level. Which, to be fair, is sort of nice. It let’s me complain with greater accuracy. And that, if nothing else, is something to be proud of. I may be a miserable codger, but I’m a damn accurate one.
But there it is. I’m awake, it’s dark outside, and I’m in this weird little ocean of potential that just seems to deepen and darken every time I find it. When I was younger, it was warm and blue, full of happy fish and warm memories.
Now it’s steel grey, cold as space, and there be kraken just waiting to pull me down.
It’s pretending to be excited and push through that gosh darn aggressive ennui and trying to feel something worthwhile. It’s standing in the dojo at night knowing I should be training. But just not quite getting there. Just standing in the dark remembering. It’s the late nights in the apartment where I can’t find anything to read, anything to watch, and I can hear the silence come roaring in as the world spins on around me.
It’s the unshakable and completely persistent feeling that there is something else I’m supposed to be doing.
It’s terrifying in the same way as watching a tornado come barreling down the road towards you is. There’s the knowledge this could be very bad, the understanding there are only a few steps you could take to make it better, and the realization that standing in a road in the middle of this field is a great way to remove all of them.
So I distract myself from the Tornado, the field, even the road. I make coffee, I watch movies and wander. In other years, when we weren’t kept inside for the betterment of all, I would wander streets and cities. Just walking to see what I could find, or driving in a direction until it got boring, then turning left.
I write in random journals, scraps of paper, and forgotten word documents. Stories, thoughts, fears, and the occasional acknowledgement of the Tornado. It’s fun to find these hidden sheets years later. Because, inevitably the Tornado will pass. I will jump into that metaphorical ditch at the last second as it howls by with the fury of a thousand freight trains. Or sometimes it evaporates. Right before slamming into me and flinging me into the sky, it suddenly lets loose its suction to the earth and dissipates into the sky like a bad dream. The fact that I am here is proof these things have happened. And, in a weird way, proof they will continue to happen.
And that’s ok. Life isn’t meant to be a series of positive and incredible moments that constantly redefine you. It can’t be. The expectation of just that can only lead to disappointment. Life is SUPPOSED to be hard, and grind, and to have sections that just aren’t all that fun. Because, when you hit the moments that do glow. The ones that make time stand still in a perfect, forever moment. They’re all the sweeter. Joy is sharper for the hardship endured to get there. Love is deeper for the trials on the road, and success is more lasting for the challenges presented.
We all stand in our own fields, watching our own tornadoes bear down on us with a feeling of panic and desperation. But the thing that took me until I was today years old to appreciate (and I’m still working on it). Is that if you look away from your cyclone of doom, you’ll see another figure, far away, facing their own fear, and if you look in the other direction, sure enough. Another soul in the midst of weather related metaphorical trials.
We all face it. And we all think that we’re alone.
But we’re not. We just need to look away for a moment. And realize we’re all on our own road.
I’ll jump in that ditch with you, and we can weather this storm together.