Today I made a decision: rather than scramble back into the car and drive an hour to my weekly dance lesson, I would stay home and take care of my domestic life after a long weekend away and many many hours in the car.
The stress that removed from my day was tremendous. I really hate rushing.
But then I found myself slumping as I arrived home, sliding into the familiar tepid armpit of my life known as “Meh.” Where this morning the idea of having a chance to clean out my fridge and cook my own dinner and then actually do my laundry (last chance ’til Friday) was a relief, something I looked forward to cosily enjoying, by 6 p.m. it all seemed… well… meh. I wasn’t particularly hungry, though I had an armload of groceries. I didn’t really want to empty my compost, or make banana bread, or put away my yogurt. I mean, then what?
In an effort to ward off the “meh” I texted a few of my friends to see if we could be social in town somewhere. The three I happened to contact had other plans already. I decided to take this as a message from the universe saying, “Stick with your original intentions, your dirty laundry and lack of homemade food is stressing you out. Do something about it.” That didn’t make the “meh” go away.
I put away the dishes anyway. I put away the yogurt anyway. I ate the spring rolls I’d half-heartedly grabbed so that I’d at least eat something…anyway. Because, you know, I guess I’m an adult. Kind of.
Meh. Meh. Meh. Meh!
At first it was a relief to be swallowed up by the internet, dive into computer land, catch up with my newsfeed. I was engaged, I was interested. I watched like five episodes of Sexplanations, a youtube educational channel which I love for many reasons, the least of which is that it is fascinating and the most of which is that I believe it’s an incredible online source of information that everyone (EVERYONE) should have access to, and it’s really well done, which gave me a million ideas, and I was feeling inspired and excited… and then I kept clicking and I kept watching and I started feeling shitty and I said to myself: all I am doing is consuming consuming consuming.
That is why I feel like crap. I have three overdue letters to write, thank you cards to send, a sink full of old food that needs to go to the compost pile, a mountain of laundry, a head full of inspiration and ambition and all I am doing is vegetating on the internet consuming what others are creating and I feel disempowered and pointless and disconnected and, well, meh!
I could take a shower. I could read a book. I could take out the compost… Or I could make something. I have to make something.
So I took a page (literally?) out of Dr. Doe’s book and I made a Want Will Won’t list. But for…everything?
And then I took another page and I made a circle and outside the circle I put everything I can’t control (like other people’s pain, war, death, disease, and having feelings about everything) and inside the circle I put everything I CAN control — what I eat, how often I sleep, who I spend time with, how I treat others, how I take care of my body and my emotions, and what I DO with the feelings I have.
Yesterday as I was driving a long drive home from a vacation which while thoroughly worth it was also thoroughly exhausting I listened to part of an episode of Radio Lab about language. And they had a clip of this neuroscientist who said that “essentially all a person is in the end is a story you tell yourself.” I was like, YES THIS THIS THIS THIS that’s what I’m talking about!
So anyway, I was scribbling away at this circle, writing things inside the circle like, what food I eat and taking care of my teeth and I had this moment of epiphany–I mean I should probably call it re-epiphany, because I have come to this realization like 8 million times already since somewhere during adolescence–and I wrote down “what stories I tell.”
I’m watching Dr. Doe in my mind’s eye jumping on her couch saying “What’s in the circle? What’s in the circle?” and I am looking at my own mantra on the page and I just get excited all over again and I start jumping up and down — what story am I telling? What story am I telling? Who am I? I GET TO DECIDE! WOOHOO! WEEEE! YEAHHHHHH!
And then I’m all like, “oh god, I’ve gotta tell this story I’ve gotta tell this story! I’m gonna write a blog and I’m gonna write the story of who I am and I’m gonna like, manifest this story of who I want to be by writing this story where I’m like, really nice to myself about myself and I’m gonna solve all my problems!” And I crack open my computer and I ask myself “What story am I telling?”
And I begin to write.
This is the story I’m telling, world. This is me. I’m human and vulnerable and creative and sometimes a little blind; I’m not always very nice to myself and I definitely don’t always take out the compost before it gets stinky. Sometimes I don’t do the laundry even though I only have three pairs of clean underwear and it’s four days until I get another chance to go to the laundromat. I carry a case full of the “mehs” around with me everywhere I go and I often forget that I can put it down. I keep myself busy to keep myself feeling useful, productive… acceptable… and I frequently forget to thank myself for what I do accomplish. I think accurate, shameless, positive sex education is probably one of the most important and radical ways that we can make the world a better place for everyone. I think everyone is valid and full of awesome and I also recognize that I can barely comprehend the size of the population of my state much less the world and I definitely still feel like some politicians can’t possibly be humans. I am full of contradictions and sometimes I revel in them because ultimately I’m not actually bound by them. I think that stories are actually the most important human thing. Period. I want a healthy body, a job where I feel like I’m helping my community and the world heal, grow, learn, thrive, yummy food, freedom to dream, and the chance to create. I am up for interpretation, looking for ease, seeking ways to be better. I don’t always take great care of my teeth, my toes, my car, my circadian rhythms. I have to get the lesson and get the lessen until I get the lesson: I have a say in who I am. I can’t choose what I was taught, who taught me, where I was born, what privileges I do and don’t have in this society, what other people think of me, how they treat me, or how I feel about all that… but I can decide to take the reigns. I can decide to be compassionate with myself, to accept that I WILL have cases of the meh and sometimes I won’t be able to put the dishes away anyway, that I won’t always say the right thing, or be the best friend or the perfect role model or the most accomplished artist or the most amazing cook. I can decide to celebrate the noticing–celebrate the recognition of the impermanence of blah. And I will.
And look! I made something!
Thanks for consuming it.