I’ve gotten quieter the past few weeks. There’s still the same Facebook chatter and pleasantries and commentary that amount to nothing, so you wouldn’t notice if you didn’t know me well. But it’s there, like a pause in the conversation or a break in the white noise.
It’s not a bad thing–I’m not hiding. I don’t feel fragile or vulnerable–at least no more vulnerable than other writers who go digging for material in the darkest recesses of their lives. This isn’t an aloofness rooted in the depression that has seemingly befallen all of us. Quite the opposite; I’ve spent so much time with my own thoughts lately, I’m no longer working double time trying to deny their existence.
I have a friend who can tell when my nerves are at capacity, and I’m ready to call a moratorium on all human interaction; she says I get super chatty. And happy–like I’m trying way too hard to prove how chatty and happy I am. She says I laugh too loud and interact too much and appear just all-around… normal. I think in her eyes, I’m the marginally adult version of this…
She says she knows what’s coming when my newsfeed becomes a steady stream of wine jokes and cat memes–radio silence is coming. She says I retreat to my “cave,” and I don’t come out until I’m good and ready. It’s an analogy I kinda dig. I like caves. They’re quiet.
I am not currently hiding in my cave, but I’m certain it appears that I’ve signed a long-term lease. I would bet money looking in from the outside, it seems I’m about to lose my grip on reality; I am disheveled and can barely keep my eyes open. My face is marked like someone slapped me. I’m eating cold ravioli from the can. I do not give off the vibe that I am grounded and have my act together.
The truth is, I’ve never been better.
My hair is a mess because I’m letting it air dry–no point in damaging it with heat if I don’t have to. I’m exhausted because I’ve had one cup of coffee today. I think I’ve taken the Drink coffee &; write mandate too seriously, and my migraine monster is getting a little cranky. My jeans are covered in white fuzzies from writing all day while sitting on the ivory floor rug with the chenille-like texture. I poked myself in the eye while trying to rub off the smudge I left when I thought I could apply mascara in the shadowy mirror of the living room. I can’t. And the cold ravioli–well, you got me there. It’s totally gross.
In my defense, you pick up weird habits while working 24-hour shifts with no break in EMS. Eating a cold dinner from a can was one of mine. Granted, I’m not working a 24-hour shift, and I haven’t been in EMS in 25 years–but none of the kids are home, I didn’t feel like cooking, and fast-food sounds more disgusting than cold ravioli. So… There.
My point is I look like I need an intervention. And a housekeeper. Maybe a nutritionist. But I feel strangely content.
No offense, but I don’t know anyone who feels content right this moment. I know the world is still a difficult place; I’m watching a friend’s helplessness as she loses a family member to this damn virus, and we’re still in the middle of political turmoil that doesn’t appear to have an end in sight. That’s on top of the incessant doomscroll that has been 2020. I’m just as tired as everyone else–except I’m content beneath the weariness.
I’m attributing it to writing every day–it’s the only thing that’s changed. I made a joke early on about writing being like meditation, but I’m starting to think this experiment has had a far-reaching benefit I don’t truly yet understand. Spending time sitting quietly every day with what feels like internalized chaos is making it less chaotic.
I have friends that run, and I never understood a “runner’s high.” Exercising yourself to euphoria has never sounded good to me–nor plausible–but apparently, it’s a real thing. I wonder if “writer’s high” is a thing? And if it is, shouldn’t we be marketing it a little better?
This is the eighteenth day in a row I’ve written; twelve of those have been for “public consumption.” Last week I was still stressing out; today, I feel more grounded than I have in years. Who knows? Maybe tomorrow I’ll even warm up the ravioli.
My goal is to continue writing every day for the rest of December and into January. It wasn’t a goal I’d stated, mostly because I was afraid of failing. But I’ll put it out here and invite anyone who thinks this might be good for them to give it a try. It absolutely cannot hurt. Now it’s your turn; tell me what you’ve been writing…