The past year and a half has been extremely difficult, both for me personally and for the country, often in ways that seemed interrelated. Especially after November I just couldn't sort it all out. One big bad loss happened in my life and then a big bad thing happened almost immediately afterwards on a national scale. I often didn't know what to think about or feel about or try to get over or process first. It all went down so fast there wasn't much to do but the thing there always is to do, which is to keep doing life anyway. Wake up and do the thing that's in front of me or the thing that's the most on fire or the thing I feel like I can handle right now more than all of the other things. It's a daily operation in discernment and self-preservation, while I try to be of some use to the people around me, too, because no thank you to the other options anymore.
I haven't really felt like I could get any traction for awhile. Decision-making has been fuzzy. Grief is draining and extremely demanding of time and energy for however long it feels like it. The quickest way through—which I also believe is the most direct, right into whatever and how much feeling I can handle at the time without hurting myself too much—is still really, really slow. Fear of nuclear or civil war (or at least widespread unrest) and the breaking down of governmental and social systems and protections for the most vulnerable what seemed like overnight was a shock to my system, too. Daily attacks on the press have consumed my mind more than perhaps they should, but I can't help it. Keeping an eye on the ball of how and to whom and about what to speak up has been a lot. I know 100 percent I am not alone in this.
The result has been that I'm not sure I've either been or had much fun for awhile now, except in tiny bites. Things = mostly heavy.
I agreed to a weekend away with friends to celebrate one of us because I knew I had to as much as I wanted to. It was a chance to be with a group of people who have helped me walk through this time with love and ridiculous GIFs, which are often the same thing. The internet came into my life as a place to get information first, and then community became my thing. There have been many times over these 12 years—much of it concentrated in the past two years—where I've thought I'd be better off in a remote location with no wireless, a notebook, and a pen, maybe. But the people I have met here have showed up in my life as real live friends time and time again. Creative community. Career coaches. Friends who actually know and care when you make it home at night from 3,000 miles away. Keepers of stories and photos and the occasional breakdown. All of it.
I was loosened up enough by Saturday to go on a boat ride, and I have nothing but cliches to describe how that all turned out, sorry. I love water so much and I'm not out on it very much. I don't know many people with boats, I guess? I don't seek out boats? But I think I should have found one a year ago, because something about the experience made me happy in a way that I have not felt in awhile. (Check Vikki's post on this also. We had similar reactions. All of the things she says about the laughing and speeding over waves is true.)
I try to practice gratitude on a daily basis, which my pre-2012 self rolls her eyes at, but when making a gratitude list every day helped to save my life I became a believer. Too often lately it's felt like a dry intellectual practice, part of my daily ritual to keep my mind right. It's not optimal when my heart's not there, though. After an hour going faster than I think I ever have on water, with people who laugh and sing and are quick to point out the good in all of us no matter what the hell else is going on in life, I felt things start to shift into place in a way I knew I needed but I didn't know how badly.
Like someone wise in my life often says, if we're not free, what's the point?