It's happened. I'm starting to lose track of time. I know that it's May but I oscillate between thinking it's the beginning of the month and thinking "Oh, shit! This is the last week in May!" Neither of those things is true. I only realized the other day that Monday is Memorial Day. I have a few friends and family members with birthdays around this time. That's pretty much the only thing grounding me in space.
How long has Pica been acting weird about his food? I'm not quite sure.
How long have I been under-feeding them with this new bag of dry food? Don't know.
How long have I been avoiding putting two simple prints up on my shop? Don't know.
Will I muster the energy to pick up a pencil and draw something to enter into the May art contest? No clue.
How many of the people I know and love will be affected by covid? I don't know.
Will we ever go to a concert again? Beats me.
Will weddings be a thing of the past? Shrug.
Will people get their jobs back? I don't know.
Will they get sick and die if they get their jobs back too soon? I don't know that either.
This is all pretty terrifying sometimes.
So I deflect.
I am very privileged in this pandemic; in the world in general. As much as I complain and continue to plot millions of ways to change my circumstances, I know that I have it pretty good. I know that this is not true for millions of others. I do.
But it's our job as humans to be self-reflective in an effort to be better people so here I am - writing about what I know and analyzing this from the lens of my own lived experience.
On the Topic of Joy
Even before the pandemic, I was starting to notice an uncomfortable truth: I'm not really sure what I enjoy doing anymore. You're rolling your eyes. I'm not hyperbolizing. I've worked my life into such a state of lists that I really don't know what I like doing just for the sake of doing it. Everything has an ulterior motive: do it for a friend, do it for family, do it for work, do it to build a business, do it to post on social media, do it to look impressive, do it to prove something, do it to make myself feel better about some perceived inadequacy. The lists are always too long to complete. Instead of letting myself have fun, I either work myself to death or sit on the couch staring into space unable to bring myself to start anything but unwilling to give up on productivity altogether. This is a horrible way to be.
So I pour a glass of wine.
Eventually my mind or my body (or both) gives up. Last week, it was my mind. I had another mid-week meltdown. I don't know how people with kids are doing this. I guess what I lack in kids I make up for in self-imposed hobbies, educational initiatives, side businesses, and obsessive exercise. Did I wake up at 6am every day to have Gilmore Girls mornings at the Luke's diner of my dreams? BAHAHAHA, no I did not. I stared at the ceiling in bed stressing about work, C&B, my future, my family, and the world. Then I rolled out of bed 12 minutes before my 9am meetings with barely enough time to brush my teeth, put on a (sports) bra (lolol what even is a real bra anymore?), and make some coffee.
[Again: I recognize my privilege.]
Know what else I did though? I watched TV for the first time in a while. Finally. I watched a bunch of Mindhunter because I felt like it. I already watched an episode today and you know what? When I finish this post, I might watch another. I've also picked up my guitar again and am sloppily plunking my way through a few songs that I enjoy and singing loudly in my apartment (These walls are made of tissues but if I have to listen to other people's conference calls all day or their continuous vacuuming and/or rowing all night, they can listen to my shower concerts and guitar practice). I thiiiiink... I think that I actually enjoy those things.
I just force myself to do so much shit all the time. And I never fucking finish it.
So I feel guilty.
Ugh. Remember that thing I said about trying to be more "medium?" I guess I'm failing. It's probably not necessary to "win" Duolingo every week. Or go for a 3+ mile walk or run every day. Or read every word of every news digest email I get.
What am I trying to say here? I think I'm saying that it's important to find things you enjoy for the sake of enjoyment, even if you have many obligations; especially if you have many obligations. I think I'm also saying that it's understandable if you don't know how to do that anymore because society has given us a shitty relationship with productivity. I think I'm also saying that I have a natural predilection for productivity as an activity in and of itself.
The key for me, I think, has to be either making peace with or letting go of the things that just suck all the time. Some of those things are obligations, which gets tricky. But if covid has taught us anything it has taught us that life is short, that everyone has some kind of an impact on this world, and that it's up to us to determine how big or small that impact is.
It appears to me that we are able to effect the greatest amount of change when we are operating from a place of joy, passion, or engagement. We owe it to the world to find something that lights us up, friends. Because sitting around on our asses hating our lives and coasting through our commitments isn't really doing anything for anybody. Maybe self-actualization isn't a selfish pursuit. Maybe the real selfishness is protecting our comfortable discontent for fear of being too real.
I'm going to keep looking for something I care about. I'll run with it for a little bit. I'll try to stop feeling like an asshat when it no longer suits me, and I'll move on. I owe it to the world to find a suitable place to let my productivity obsession run wild.
A good friend once told me that discontent is our greatest asset. I tend to agree. It also feels uncomfortable as shit. So I understand why we all try to avoid it. The flip side of that coin is that it's probably worth appreciating what we have available to us while we have it. A recent wave of hiring has encouraged me to look at my job through the lens of people who are new and eager; people who have a passion for the very things I tell myself I hate every day. It's informative, if nothing else.
I don't know. Best we can do is keep looking for the joy, I guess. It's out there somewhere; maybe even right in front of our faces. Won't know unless we look.