It was some time ago, when listening to a podcast about the intricacies of emotion, I came to a deeper understanding of how about how the words shape the experience we have. The ability to describe how we feel goes a long way for how we treat these experiences and the process in how we cope with these experiences.
It’s then I have a word problem, an inability to describe how I feel simply. Maybe it’s because it’s a multitude of many things that are happening right, now but my feelings are stunted and unresolved because of my inability to put my finger on exactly what I am going through.
It mixture, a muddle of things to be honest. A sadness, an unease, an accomplishment, but also a sense nihilism. A confused sort of thing that comes together more like a grey cloud than anything clear cut. I don’t know what to do or what the right thing is, my body and brain are in incongruency trying to get a grip on myself as the world seems to be falling apart. It is then I had wished for the guise of routine to save me from the confusion only to be thrown to the lions, unrooted and left to hoist myself up the best I can.
For now, I used just a place holder of _______, a blank space that will have to do in the meantime as I have to continue moving forward. It doesn’t make the nights easier or the mornings shorter. What it does do is let me acknowledge it exists and to keep moving forward. I may not find the word, but I at least need to spend time healing.
A place between sleep and wakefulness, like a walking daydream, nothing seems real enough to shudder me into existence but not outlandish enough to constitute the believability of a dream. Like a forced existence or conscious stasis, I am yearning for something to animate me once again.
It’s a chronic problem, this apathy for the reality that makes me wander off into different places looking for something I can’t find within myself, interest. Sometimes I find it in the strangest places, traveling like Alice down the rabbit hole wondering how far I can go before I wake up.
It’s because of that I consider myself a hobbyist. In the way that I collect hobbies: cooking, baking, folding paper, sewing, drawing, and writing. It’s all seated in the desire to learn new things. It’s the dabbling, understanding just enough to allow me a peek into a different world that I enjoy. The craving of seeing the world slightly differently than before. A strange addiction to expanding my perspective, one that seems at least on the surface never to run out. It keeps me around at least for a little while, before it’s not enough and a fall back into this place.
I think that’s why I also like the stress of deadlines, it feels somewhat more like I am alive. It’s a bad habit to rely on to keep me going, but it works. The stress pushes me to move and keeps me awake long enough to feel conscious again.
To be honest, it always feels as if I just falling through the sky, wind brushing past, but the ground never coming. Like a continual stasis, like I could close my eyes and float forever. I wonder what will wake me from this recurrent waking dream and bring me to life once again. What will keep me grounded, and aware What will bring me back home.
“I’m terrible at resting” is what I say when people ask me why I’m out and about even when I’m injured. That’s only partially true. It’s more out of fear that I can’t stay hold up in my room taking it easy, waiting for my body to heal. It’s the most dangerous place for me, because of allure, the temptation of letting go too much. It’s as if I’m a recovering comfort addict, someone who has fallen into the warm arms of a pillow that refuses to let go. One who spent a good portion of his life avoiding his problems by trying to maximize this happiness through things around him. Many long nights trying to find the meaning in life in the stories of the page or the pixels on the screen but never finding the true fulfillment until I left those things behind and decided to face reality once again.
It’s through knowing this and finding unimpeachable bliss in effort that my current situation becomes so dangerous. It’s easy to slip back into that sphere of comfort, blame my injury for the hours the pass before my eyes that see nothing done. To make excuses for the things that at the moment seem too troubling for me. To fall away and allow all I’ve done to turn to sand and dust so it can become a place to rest my weary head.
It’s hard because I know I need to rest. To allow my body to fix itself from the trauma I have caused. But I’m scared by it, scared that all of what I am may fade away with it like the atrophy of my muscles in my now broken leg. Terrified about the challenges to come and my inablity to act as quickly or as easily. It feels as if my hand’s and back can’t hold all which I find important. Like the bruises I bear live beneath the skin and touched my soul causing it to scream out and stop me because it hurts. I never had these problems when I could chase after my dreams but here I am trying to pick up the pieces of life temporarily fractured by the rain, steel, and concrete.
I feel weak again, at the mercy of the whims of time and body. What I want is peace from myself as this comfortable zone drives these negative feelings inside. It’s something that perpetuates itself and commands that the only way free of these feelings is to fold back into the comfort and push reality aside for just long enough for my problems to go away.
This is no way to live a life, or the way I want my life to go. It’s where I am but not where I will be forever. Tomorrow is a new day for a new reality to rise and that’s where I need to be. In the present, struggling against this feeling, against the hard days and the inactivity that overwhelms me, because at the end of the day fight is worth it no matter how long it takes to win.
Though I can’t recommend it, I can say it does produce results! I had been spending 5 mornings of my week at the gym exercising but all I really needed to do is be get into a car accident and become essentially bedridden for a week to lose some unwanted weight. Maybe of the sleep that I have been getting or the lack of food intake but I can at least say for me that looking a little slimmer even with my muscles atrophying as I type wasn’t exactly an unwanted side effect. Now the problem will be when I eventually do get back to the gym how exactly am I suppose to map my progress, my right legs muscle that I had been spending time working on is looking pretty weak so the loss isn’t fat but to counteract that I do have a surgical steel plate in my ankle which might tip the scales against my favor. Regardless to say it’s time to get a bit ridiculous with what has been going on.
You see, almost dying and being in semi-constant pain has some upsides.
First, that once again in my life people are simply impressed that I can get up and stand. Now I know the last time that happened was probably around the time I learn to walk but it still feels good when people are impressed by the simple things. It makes what I do all the more impressive in the long run and I can honestly say that it feels pretty good when people have that astonished face with me doing something I learned to do when I was a toddler.
Second, I have gotten into the habit of sharing my schedule with only some people so that whenever I walk into a room people are always surprised and happy to see me. Now that might not be the best use of my communication skills but it’s nice to know that just showing up can make people happy. Though this was true before, my ever-lingering presence on campus and at work made my existence a little more assured so now me showing up is a nice surprise for those around me. I am sure it will run its course of the next couple of weeks but at least for now it nice to see.
Third, people have stopped complaining around me. Now that is not something I’ve ever said or have done but it’s one of those things when someone is walking around with a peg leg and a cane most people feel less inclined to rant about the guy who was going too slow down the street.
Fourth, now that I am recovering and going long distances is a bit of chore I found that saying I am tired and want to rest get taken a bit more seriously. Though that is not to say that I hadn’t been getting tired in the afternoons like a kindergartener but now people are more accepting when I put my head down and take a small snooze for about 20 minutes throughout the day.
Fifth, I have an epic story to tell as my car accident was a standard car accident. Now, obviously not something to boast about but if you have a good story to tell about how it happened it does make the pain of it actually happening a little less painful.
Sixth, the next six to eight weeks I have a whole new realm of jokes that I previously didn’t get access to because I was more able-bodied. Though I am sure people will tire of it sooner than that I still get a kick of telling people that normally I would drive but with my driving foot in a boot I really have only two speeds, really slow and really fast so putting me behind the wheel might not necessarily be the best idea.
Lastly, now whenever I say inspirational stuff it has a bit more weight to it. Not that I didn’t say these things before but when you’re being told that you have to live your life like there is no tomorrow by a guy who could have died I guess people take that more seriously. Kind of like a near-death experience street cred. But hey, I will take what I can get.
It’s not all bad getting an injury and how much can I really complain when the response of my family and friends is an outpouring of love. Though I might have fractures and broken bones, torn ligaments, a collapsed lung what I have gotten back is the reassurance that I have chosen and been given great people in my life, and could I really ask for much more than that… though pancakes does sound really good right now.
I don’t think it would be a surprise to anyone to say I have been stressed the last several months. I think it’s been apparent in my writings and my actions outside of them. Like a candle burning slowly through the night, I feel exhausted now that everything is said and done. I have finally finished all I have to do before the holidays, but now that things are over I feel.. well… not as I expected.
Everything is over, sure I have lingering projects that I have to do over the break and my job is still going to be there on Monday but I’m done, I made it through the end of this section. I thought I would be happy, overjoyed at this accomplishment and yet I just feel so… empty about it all. Like I have been putting so much of myself into this endeavor that when it came time to submit I forgot to put anything back in.
This emptiness has been manifesting itself throughout my everyday. Things like sitting in chairs listlessly staring into the white of the walls around me, sleeping like a madman who found the meaning of his life in dreams, and a general sense of apathy. These feelings have been following me for days now, and maybe it’s part of the recovery process, but it bothers me. For someone who has been depressed multiple times in his life, these symptoms are worrisome, and if they persist I feel like it will spell trouble. I might be overly sensitive to these things but I can tell you being depresses is something to be wary of.
I think this is all part of a great wind down, this recovery from fried nerves, long nights, and so much worrying. It’s hard to stop after so much frenzied activity, to the point where I am almost more comfortable working at hurried pace than the silence that comes after. There is no gradual tapering off in this season, it’s just all and then nothing.
It’s in recognizing these feelings that start the process of healing, knowing that it’s okay to be not okay for a little while as my spirit returns to me. These feelings of anxiety and lack of productivity will be fine for some time, as long as they aren’t keeping me from what I enjoy. That I have to express my frustration and emotions as they come and be content with the things that I have. To know that things will return in time, and I have to keep pushing forward. In recognition, I have the ability to fight against this and rise above.
Today marks the day to start to recover from this crazy rollercoaster I have been on for the last 6 months, which is a coincidence because it is my birthday too.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, people did a study about sleep, actually the lack of it. You see, they took these mice and put them on this treadmill, ultimately depriving them of sleep for days and days on end. The mice walked, and walked, and walked for what seemed like an eternity for them. Of course, they were taken care of, fed, kept in a “comfortable” environment, they were just forced to stay awake. After what it seemed like an eternity for mice (11-32 days) they had all died thinner, weaker, full of unhealed lesions. Even though they had everything else, without rest they died.
Now, this is an extreme example, no one in their right mind would try to keep themselves up for that long (unless they were trying to break a world record) but I think this example is a good one. Through this sleep deprivation happened all at once, how many of us have pushed back this rest, both mind and body. I do this all the time, little by little chipping away at the amount of sleep and resources I have until by the time the weekend comes I have to throw myself into it just to feel normal again.
That’s what yesterday was. A deep breath. My body and mind telling me to stop and wait. To just be and rest for a little while.
We’re all better when we have time to take a break. I do my best work when I can put 100% of myself into something I love. So for now, let me just catch a breath.
Normally I make a joke when people point out that I don’t sleep much anymore. Saying things like “There ain’t no rest for the wicked” or “I can sleep when I’m dead” because it’s funny to me. Truthfully, I do get enough sleep every night, around 5 to 6 hours during the week and 7 1/2 on the weekends. What people are mostly commenting on is the fact I tend to work late night, but for me, it’s peaceful, a way to wind down the day and sometimes the only time I can really concentrate on anything.
But not this week.
This week has been different. Nights have been restless with the apprehensions about my future and school. I spent them staring at a screen, pushing myself to finish what I said I need to after which I would go to shut my eyes, and all I get is the darkness but nothing else. No calm, no peace, just quiet darkness.
I don’t really know if it means I’m in a bad place or a good one. It’s the romantic in me that sees this as the final barrier to really being able to say I’ve put my all into anything. But it’s not fun, the cloud that persists over my head, my eyes that burn in the light, and I am unable to think or do anything productively. Maybe I’ll get used this change to 3 or 4 hours, this feeling of sleeplessness, perhaps these feeling will go away after I stick with it for long enough. I don’t know, but even in my recovery I am still tired but must press on.
It’s week one, and if this is any indication of how the rest of this year goes I am in for a roller coaster. I tell myself that this is what my dream requires, this sacrifice of self that may take a lot but ultimately will give me what I’ve been envisioning since I began this journey back in high school. For me it’s a constant question, how much will I need to push myself to get what I want and a constant wonder of what more will it take from me before this is through.
Thinking about it, take is a strong word since I choose to do follow through with it. I choose to try and stay up for as long as possible. I choose to try and squeeze the most out of my days. I choose to forgo going out when I have work, I choose to stay on campus those extra hours to get things done. I choose, I choose, I choose, and maybe that’s my problem with it, it finally came a time where I no longer chose, my body just did, and I was left unable to stop this restive onslaught. I don’t know if it’s a battle I will need to fight in the future, but the moment I guess I’ll just take advantage of all the extra time not sleeping.
One day, I finally found one day. One day free of alarm clocks, things to do, people to see. One day of rest that my body so needs.
Thes black lines on a page that I so diligently have written are starting to move away from me. I keep a schedule, writing in it all I have to do and all I plan to do, but with each passing day it becomes harder and harder to write into it.
Because of the incessantness of it. My hands ache when I hold that pen to the paper because it means that there is no end. I need time, space in my book to rejuvenate, to allow these moments of rest come. Day after day, like raindrops in a forest I feel this showering of duties up me. I know this rain will end eventually but I want at the moment is an old tree to shelter me so I have a place to lay my head.
I know I ask for this, I overbook myself to the point where I can’t breathe. Where my mind goes blank, my body gets tired, and I get sick. It’s something I have to do to keep moving forward in this grand festival of life. What I do today is all for tomorrow, this place where I finally achieve what I want. I’m told I am almost there, a place where I can grab it, just make it through these moments and it will all be over soon.
I will rest today so when tomorrow comes I can be strong and free. I will rest today so when the future comes I will be ready to fight for it with all of me.
I think people believe that I can be around people all day. Not an unsubstantiated belief because for most of the day, you will find me around and talking to others. I do though run out of steam, and in those moments I need to draw back and fold into myself.
I’ve just been feeling tired lately, and it’s not just because of the atrocious sleeping schedule that I have adopted but because I haven’t had that time to recharge and be by myself. I haven’t made this time and with the coming and going of projects and events the last day I had to myself was over a month ago. I have a high tolerance, but eventually, I do run out of steam. This is a massive problem because it causes me to fall behind, not be involved like I could. I am not able to give 100% because my batteries are only partially recharged. So my health, my work, and those around me I need this time to just be me. There are only so many days that I can follow this intense routine before the routine itself starts to break down, and I start to resent all that holds me together
What do I do, write, read, sleep, nothing really spectacular. Sometimes I watch shows, but there is a hesitation because what if I get too involved. I used to play video games, but with my schedule, I am worried I will become too immersed in it. It’s almost not fair or healthy that I keep giving these things up for my degree. What I do narrows, to the point where I find myself staring out of windows, losing myself in the horizon. I know it’s about balance, but I have to do what I can to survive.
This though presupposes a problem. That what I doing, resisting these urges to play will ultimately catch up to me. It’s like when the people in your life make you choose between two things that you love, even though you will still end up with what you want, the cost of the other weights down on your decision. If you do this enough, it will eat away at you, just like it’s starting to eat away at me. To the point where I get so drained that my mind can’t move forward unless I stop.
I need these moments because they are like precious nutrients to keep my days from becoming carbon copies of each other. To keep me inspired and moving forward. I had a day earlier this week that I got these nutrients, and the whole next day it felt like I was on top of the world. It didn’t last long, that night I had to spend my night working long hours to get my work done. This day gave me something though, hope. Hope for what could be if I figure this thing out. So like the scientist I aspire to be, I will test this, and make it work. Find out where I can recharge these batteries so when the time comes, I will have the energy to be the all of me that I want to be.