Beginnings and Endings

fadingflowers

 

This morning I woke up without an alarm, feeling well-rested and ready to start my day after 7 and a half hours of sleep. Before my health crash, I was so arrogant and dismissive about the importance of good sleep. I worked hard. I played hard. I slept if and when I could squeeze it in. It was an afterthought.  I was fond of saying, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”

 

But eventually my body started talking back, and what she said was, “If you don’t slow down, that can be arranged.”

 

 

Getting enough sleep is one of my top priorities now. After just a few years of really honoring my body’s need for regular, predictable periods of sleep, it’s still kind of a novelty. I often marvel when I wake up in the morning feeling like I slept well.

 

One of the first thoughts I had upon waking this morning was about the passing of time. How is it already the last day of July? The tiny 8 pound puppy I brought home in May is now a 25 + pound puddle of wrinkles, snoring at my feet. My sweet babies are now 18, 21, and 23. I was a kid in the Midwest and now I’m forty in Massachusetts. I lived in three other states in the space between. I’ve been married to my wife for almost four years. I got sick, and then I got sicker, and now I’m healing. When I fell asleep it was dark and the world outside my window was quiet. Now the sun is shining and the birds are singing.

 

 

Ever since I was little I’ve had a reverence for the first and last days of all kinds of things. Beginnings and endings, whether large or small, have always felt worth noting to me. It’s not because they’re extraordinary (although some are). There’s always something beginning or ending. It feels good to me to find meaning and worthiness in the common. Everyday life is the altar at which I worship.

 

 

My puppy is no longer sleeping. She has the zoomies and she’s gleefully tearing around the apartment with a squeaky stuffed toy that looks like a dancing couple in her mouth. I hear the metallic clang of buttons and zippers against the whir of the dryer. Rogue Wave’s cover of Let My Love Open the Door is playing on Spotify. A thin slant of sunlight across the hardwood floor of my living room draws my eye away from the screen again and again. I just realized I need to floss my teeth. In this moment, this is what my life looks like. Even one minute from now, at least one of these things will have changed. The song will have changed, or the puppy will collapse in a tired heap. The dryer will buzz. A cloud might obscure the sun. Who can say?

 

 

The moment is fleeting. It won’t look like this for long. This moment will end and a new one will begin.

 

On this last day of July, I am enjoying what is, while it is. Tomorrow it will be August. Begin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Imperfect Offerings

Fear is a normal state to move through, but it’s no place to put down roots and spend your life.

yellowflowerA couple of months ago I started to miss writing publicly. It’s been four years since I developed a chronic illness. A few times throughout those four years I attempted to start writing again, and with each new post or submission I’d promise myself that this would be the time I’d get it together and start writing consistently. Each of those time I meant it, and each of those times, that’s not how it went.

What I wanted was out of alignment with what I needed. There have been too many times in my life when my wants and needs butted up against each other and I overrode my needs in order to do (or have) what I wanted. If this is something you only do once in a great while, it’s not so bad. It can even be worth it. When it becomes a way of life, you’re in trouble.

While there’s no way of ever knowing these things for sure, I’d go so far as to say that in my case, not tending to my needs (on every level) for many, many years, probably played a large part in getting sick in the first place. It certainly didn’t help. I was completely leveled for a very long time. I’m still not 100% well, but slowly I’ve been getting better. The better I felt, the more I missed writing.

The reason for the lag between feeling the pull to start writing again and actually doing it had less to do with my physical health at this point than it did with the inertia of perfectionism. For every day that I woke up feeling determined to sit down and write I came up with at least half a dozen reasons for why I couldn’t. So I didn’t.

My excuses and rationalizations ran the gamut from not having anything worth saying after spending two years alone in my bedroom to needing to revamp my blog because it’s ugly and outdated. Oh, and of course, there was the urgent need to declutter my closet and deep-clean my pantry before I could possibly concentrate. The reasons don’t matter, because they’re not fucking real.

The real reason?

Fear. 

Fear of being seen. Fear of being vulnerable and visible. Fear of being criticized. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of not being perfect. Fear of no one reading. Fear of too many people reading. Fear of rejection letters. Fear of pieces being accepted, my words sent out into the world in all directions for anyone and everyone to pick apart. My life being sent out into the world for anyone and everyone to pick apart.

Fear is a normal state to move through, but it’s no place to put down roots and spend your life. I’m back to working on my novel. I’m also plugging away on a couple of essays to submit to various places. I’ve put up a Patreon page, which is where I’ll be doing most of my writing about my health and healing. I’ll also be writing here again.

There will be no perfect offerings, but nonetheless, the offerings will be made. Just me, showing up with what I’ve got.