Earlier this summer, while moving stuff, I pulled out my video camera and realized that it still had a tape in it and realized that I had a camera that still used tapes and I frowned. Looked at the tape and realized that it was the last thing I had been working on before I got sick. And, apart from some stuff for work, my creative output plummeted to pretty much nothing for a long time. It was around the same time that I had to abandon my second radio story and freelancing. I literally couldn’t talk without sounding like I had a mouth full of marbles because of inflammation.
More people died today in a shooting. Everything I have to say is miniscule in comparison to that, to Syria, to the struggle for black lives to matter. But we all have our own deal and for those of us who will wake up in the morning and have to deal with our own personal deals, maybe sharing our stuff is important, in a small way.
I spent a month updating this thing every day. Then I retreated quite a bit. I was updating while life was looming and then retreating as it really came crashing in, perhaps unsure about what to even say or what to share or where my story started and ended and where those of others began.
I’ve been struck, as of late, by how quickly I’ve reverted back to a mode of self that I used to know, largely in college… poked up a bit in various grad school outings. Certain refinements have taken place. I’m much neater. I eat better. I’m stronger. I think I’ve figured out my hair for the most part. Oh and I have a kid – that’s pretty different.
Simultaneously, I’ve felt like the stress of the past couple years has both stomped down on me and also cleared away. Multiple moves, the onset of a serious chronic disease, and your marriage failing are apparently major stress events in life and that’s just the big stuff that directly concerns me. Who knew? Are we not to keep trucking on as though all is well? I guess I finally realized that I can lay off myself a little bit for not being the person I wanted to be amidst all of this. I did complete a marathon though, so there’s that. But now that I’m sitting with mostly my own thoughts and space, I realize that the above-mentioned major stressors also acted as prism to focus my mind. These are galvanizing, annealing events.
So in the meantime, I feel like I have a duty to myself to try to do as much as I can. And why I will always get behind the “what have you got to lose?” line of advice. Will you regret not having done something, whether it be taking a chance on a new opportunity, telling someone how you honestly feel, or pushing yourself mentally or physically? Those of us who have lost people early and are reminded constantly of our possible limitations end up with this weird mix of nihilistic optimism, I think.
That plays a lot into my current mindset. I could wake up tomorrow unable to walk again like that one summer that started it all. The medication I’m on is probably going to cause some form of cancer later in life. I could have a stroke. Car accident. Shot. Dementia. It’s not like I worry about these things, but it’s just the reality. LIFE IS SHORT.
I also wrote a lot about saying yes to things and opening myself up more emotionally. That’s been a mixed bag. Some really great things have come of that and some things… not so much. Retreat, regroup, take what you can from it and hunker down. It still goes against most of my instincts. The fact that I still live within the city limits and not in some outer corner of the Yukon speaks to my fortitude. Although I haven’t completely given up on that idea once the child is off to college.
But about the galvanized and annealing and other words of metalwork. This year has been hard. Second hardest year ever. Maybe first. I mean, no one immediate to me died, but a great deal of hurt went around. It’s been a lot of “well, this is bad, but it seems to be happening in the best way?” And saying yes and being open emotionally sounds like happy touchy-feely stuff and really, what I’m finding is that really, that’s not the case. The deal is that I don’t really care about certain things anymore. I care about my kid, I care about me and if I seem to be kind of an asshole otherwise, I kind of don’t care.
And that’s true on one level, but the other part of it is that I’m still human, as much as I fight it. I fixate. I mourn. I become giddy. I share too much. I stay silent. I hold out hope. I’ve already given up. I covet material goods. I am a hypocrite. I withhold. I tell the truth.
I’m figuring out who I am again. I’m pretty sure I never lost that person. Pretty close to honing back in on that person, who just took some alternate forms for awhile. That person did a lot of stuff, probably too much, and, for reasons still somewhat unclear, couldn’t follow through on a lot of things. A few years and life experiences are helping me direct my actions more. People who have known me long enough know this person. It’s a easy trip back if I just let a few things go.