Thursday Writing: With fresh eyes

We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.

Anaïs Nin

I was sitting listening to the Nat King Cole Trio when I suddenly remembered I hadn’t written a blog entry for today. Now I’m full of breakfast-for-dinner (bell pepper & onion scramble, spelt toast w/butter & my mom’s raspberry jam) and not feeling very inspired — but part of any practice is going through the motions, so here I am.

I haven’t written much this week. I do (scant) morning pages still, but I guess I feel the need to process this month physically rather than intellectually. (In contrast, during the two-plus days when Tisha was transitioning, I almost couldn’t stop writing, but I’d spend most of the day physically immobile, curled in a chair or lying on the ground.) I’ve tidied and reorganized my office and some of the rest of the house, I’ve kept up really well with laundry, I’ve cooked, I’ve sought out and purchased extremely specific items that have changed the feel of certain areas of the house. I’ve been busy, but not with words. Besides not writing, I also haven’t taken much quiet alone time. I suspect I’m a little afraid of introspection at the moment. There’s still a heavy ball of sadness in my heart, and I don’t know if I’m ready to bring it out and see what it looks like.

Nevertheless… as I wrote a week ago, priorities seem clearer now. I’ve been operating without false urgency, feeling removed from the persuasive stressors of normal life. This sensation is somewhat less intense than it was last week, but it persists; I’m still finding it easy to do slow, time-consuming tasks, and I don’t feel bothered by what I’m leaving undone. Of course, if this keeps up forever, it’ll be a liability, but for now it’s less apathy than it is a calm assurance that things will unfold with time.

In trying to write this entry, I looked through some of my old journal entries, and found one from last July in which I’d laid out a weekly schedule to consist of reading, writing stories, and writing and drawing exercises. I listed ten of these items in detail; for example: read two years of Virginia Woolf’s diary, spend an hour with a perspective-drawing book, take out an old short story and revise it. When I skimmed the list tonight, it just made my head spin. Did I really think I could get through all those things in a week… every week? No wonder I felt so inadequate all the time!

I guess what I know now, and didn’t realize then, is that you can’t just break down a day into x number of actions to be performed in y number of hours. Maybe the writing exercise only takes an hour, maybe I can do a self-portrait in 45 minutes, but these tasks require substantial regrouping and mental gear-shifting between them; anything less results in anxiety and burnout. I think it has taken Tisha’s death and my own sadness for me to fully realize that the world won’t fall apart if I don’t perform my to-do list on schedule… or, perhaps, to realize that the world will fall apart, regardless of anything I do. After all, I watched it happen, and I’m still here.

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