Here’s what I did when I awoke today.
I climbed out of bed, and encountered my daughter, who has taken to coming up to sleep with us because she feels anxious alone sometimes at night.
After I fed her breakfast and she went to play in her room, I wrote for 15 minutes whatever came into my mind. This is the writing meditation that I try to do each day. Then I went to the basement and performed 15 minutes of stretching and tai chi. After that, I ran the dishwasher, put away towels from yesterday’s laundry, trimmed my hair and beard with my clippers, took a shower, shaved, and dressed.
Depending on how you’re feeling today, or these days in general, the narrative I’ve presented may sound like a lot. It may sound like I have it pretty well together. Or not.
But here’s the reality: I got up because I have kids who need me, and because my partner works hard and late and needs her sleep. And I did the other things not because I’m focused or organized or strong but because I need to do them.
I’m not strong. That doesn’t mean I think I’m weak, but like a lot of people I see on social media, at times I’m hanging by a thread. Actually, I should say several threads because I’m lucky enough to have a great partner and my children and friends to whom I can text or tweet.
But that doesn’t keep me from at times feeling angry or terrified or full of despair. I still spend too much time on Twitter or news sites reading about how bad our prospects could be, thinking about the stupidity and bigotry that got us here. I idly fantasize about how this could be a turning point that leads to change.
And at times I just want to be by myself in my bedroom and stream TV shows.
Sometimes I meet my goal of three 15 minute writing meditations a day; sometimes I only do two or one. Yesterday, I did none. Sometimes I achieve my three 15 minute tai chi breaks each day; sometimes I only do two or one. Yesterday, also none. Sometimes I do my hour of reading, and of working on the Patreon page I hope to launch; yesterday I didn’t do the reading but I did do some of the work. Sometimes I remember to brush my teeth; sometimes I take a shower; sometimes I do neither.
At my best, I realize that this pandemic isn’t a test of individual strength. I have a history of depression and a stash of anti-anxiety meds that convince me I’d have difficulty passing that test.
Instead, it’s time to find and hold on to what keeps me together: working with words, exercise, household tasks, and people who love and support me. For other folks, different things may serve this purpose. There may even be some, the universe bless them, who churn along pretty much on their own, somehow unaffected.
But me? No, I’m not strong. And thank creation I don’t have to be. Because if you’ve found these words you know that none of us are in this alone. I struggle to let go of the idea that it’s supposed to be otherwise, and we’ll see how this day goes. But so far, right now, I’m doing okay. And right now is enough.