Typically locked into the rhythm of a zipper line, I was instead traversing the mogul run at a plodding speed, my legs too dead to properly execute from edge to edge. It was perplexing, one in a series of bewilderments appearing more frequently over the past weeks. I was unnerved by the sudden inability to perform what I consider a rudimentary task, more so by my failure to recognize that most fundamental of human foibles. So accustomed to movement, to activity, to what I naïvely believed to be a boundless spring of energy, that I had not paused to consider that I was running myself into the ground. I couldn’t ski, not because I wasn’t focused, but because my body desperately needed a rest that I refused to give it.
Physical and literary pursuits have been the salve to the many stresses of my professional and personal lives. These distractions share significant commonalities, chief among them that their success is predicated on momentum and routine. It is hard to start skinning up mountains, but when it becomes a rote part of your week, the repetition makes it considerably easier, both physically and mentally. The same holds true for a writing practice: continuity is key to not only maintaining a cogent storyline, but to the motivation necessary to sit in front of a blinking cursor night after night. These endeavors require full attention and the energy to fuel such concentration.
My work is close to my heart and a welcome taxation on my brain; I am extremely fortunate to aid others in processing disputes that are sucking the marrow from their existences. It is a joyful burden, but one that never relents. I often awake in the darkest parts of the night, mulling over the minute details of a conflict that does not even really concern me. Honored that people continue to seek my counsel, I regularly interrupt my work or play to field calls of distress, to talk people through their problems. In so doing, I am handsomely rewarded with karma and satisfaction, if not riches or respite. I know that my generosity is abused, but I give anyway, a self-sabotage that further depletes my reserves of patience and sanity.
My household is run by me alone; I am the cook and maid and driver, inundated with the daily mundanities of laundry, dishes, maintenance, homeschooling, and the magnificence of child rearing. I daresay that Violet is among the easiest kids that there are to raise, but she is still nine and my daughter, so she is more challenging to parent than say, a Chia pet. Multiplication tables and skinned knees and unexpected quarantines, it is all in the line of duty, a job for which I am both underqualified and eternally grateful.
It is my considered choice, my coping mechanism, to never stop moving. Yet, fourteen months or more into a real push, I am feeling the effects of my lack of balance. There is a reason that Newtonian physics have not been undermined, that a perpetual motion machine does not exist. It is impossible to stay ahead of the pain, of the guilt, of the heartache, of the fear. Sometimes you must let these things catch you, to give you the proverbial atomic wedgie that is a human’s occasional lot in life.
Relentless optimism is exhausting; it takes great effort to see the light in darkness, to see the storms through a dry spell, to see the good that lurks in a black heart. I want to be the beacon of hope, but do not have an unlimited battery. I do a lot, but am humbled by those that survive hardships that are orders of magnitude more daunting, more horrific. Put in that context, I am loathe to admit the shortcomings with which I am struggling, knowing that it could be so much worse. But I must come to a halt, to pump the brakes for an hour or a day, be subsumed by the realities of life so that I can both appreciate those adversities and the exuberances that are their counterpoint.
Perhaps I just need a hot bath and a long nap. Perhaps that will happen next week.