So. I haven’t been around here much lately. That’s because lately it seems like virtually everyone and everything in my life needs so much, so much time and attention and conversation and consideration, that I feel positively beset by responsibilities, and I’m being forced into cutting corners where I can. Actually, this entry could be considered a stand-in for any number of emails, phone calls, skype calls, and letters that I just haven’t had the time or heart to respond to recently.
I’ve always been somebody who gives, for better or for worse, and although I’ve made a lot of headway in terms of keeping that exchange healthy, right now I feel considerably overwhelmed. Every day I’m riding my bike purposefully instead of for the sheer hell of it, writing emails instead of writing in my journal, practicing and secluding myself with my unreadable pieces of music instead of walking two blocks to stare at the lake and allow myself to relax. Everything I do has a function, and very few of those functions are, strictly speaking, about me. It’s wearing me down, this constant need, this seeming urgency. I can barely sit still, and yet when I do I’m completely exhausted, emptied out.
This happens to me periodically, and I never seem to know how to handle it gracefully. The problem is that all of these needs are related to things that are also genuine wants: I want to be there for my friends and loved ones, I want to play interesting music, I want to lead a purposeful and productive and fulfilling life. The problem is not so much that these things are part of my life—they always are, to some extent—but that the part I assign them in my life is sometimes misplaced. The truth is that the meanings of actions are colored by intent, and lately my intent has been merely to survive, to get through. I’m not enjoying the things that I want; I’m enduring them to get somewhere else. And when I allow want to become need, when I turn my actions into means instead of ends, I am less happy.
I suspect that this particular run through this cycle is hitting me hard because I wasn’t expecting to be here again. Here’s where I admit to a small bit of seemingly-unrelated narcissism: when I’m down, I go back and read my own blog archives, happy insightful posts about waking up and learning how to be happy. It helps, although I often feel like past me is a hell of a lot smarter than present me. (I’m hoping that’s just the mysterious power of hindsight.) This time last year I was in the full-on throes of personal epiphany, learning how to be happy and myself and still get things done, and my writing reflected that. This year I’m winding once again through the torturous passes of figuring shit out, the slow grinding movement that is the precursor to better things, and it feels like a setback.
It’s not, though. I feel like I got stuck on the feeling of radical change and it’s keeping me from appreciating what’s happening now. Last year was all about that change—crazy growth spurts, massive amounts of new knowledge flooding in, a wicked learning curve. This year, however, appears to be all about learning how to grow within the context of relative stability, of the framework that I was learning how to build last year. What I’m trying to say is that even change has to change. Last year was a flurry; this year is more like tidal pull, erosion, a slow shift. I don’t want to discount now just because the pace is different. I’m readjusting, realigning, looking for the good that I can use and discarding the bad that is just holding me down.
And so, I’m taking a step back. If this summer is about slow learning, then I need to let that happen and not try to turn it into something it’s not, namely last summer. I need to relax my hold, take a breath, and allow my needs to magically transform back into wants. And so, if you don’t hear from me in a phone call or chat or email or on facebook or whatever for a little while, don’t worry; I’m just getting back on my feet so I can be a better friend, a better listener, in the future.