It strikes me that getting another post up in only just about six weeks since my last one really should be considered to be progress, if not yet qualifying in my mind as a victory. Small steps toward victory (and whatever I decide that looks like for me) will have to do for this post from the Now.
With my pre-pandemic lifestyle and routine now for the largest part a distant, dusty memory hidden in the back of my mind, the challenge I have faced this fall has been to develop a new routine that now incorporates virtual elements into my ongoing work and volunteer endeavours, and makes myself as a higher priority. I hope these efforts will not be shoved aside or trampled by whatever new world order establishes itself post-pandemic.
Early in the pandemic, any thoughts I had about what life might look like for me post-pandemic really didn’t visualize themselves in my mind as anything other than a vast, black void of space, but now, as more and more signs of the life we once knew reappearing around us, that black void has been becoming lighter, and filling with a hazy grey. I decided as the haze grew that I wanted to take an active role in giving it hard lines and definition. Assisting me is the realization that I’ve also finally accepted the truth about the past: it cannot be changed, and the only way to move forward into the future unfettered, is to let go of it.
What sparked this line of thinking for me was the recognition of just how completely out of balance my volunteer endeavours, demands of work, and personal commitments have been with each other, even when two out of three factors continue to be conducted primarily virtually. The commutes between home, work, and volunteer sites, might have consumed time and money, but did they did not call upon the expenditure of a lot of mental energy, and as I’m realizing now, those travels did provide a chance for a break to think and an opportunity to catch my breath. In the new world order that awaits us, the danger is allowing the former commute time to be quickly and easily filled by meetings and their resulting commitments. With the coming of the new order, the Boil is starting to look an even bigger threat, and one that would not be as gradual or painless to fall into once again.
Life tends to give back what you put into it. Put in zero effort, and you should expect no reward. I’ve said and taught that lesson to many impressionable minds over the years, but it is now clear to me that I didn’t stop to listen to myself long enough to actually learn to be just selfish enough to actually live the lessons. Starting this fall I’ll be working on adjusting goals, my goals, and making them the most important focus of my life, instead of putting my energy and efforts into attempts to pull resisters along, or to lift them up to achieve goals they didn’t feel enough intrinsic desire to seek out and achieve for themselves, let alone accept the help offered to achieve them.
I had thought it would occur later, after the pandemic was declared officially over, but it appears that like the slowly increasing vaccination rates (spurred on by the
vaccination passport Restrictions Exemption Program in Alberta), the numbing effect that accompanies the Boil was increasing. I had a realization that I was starting to cook once again, and I knew it was time to take action or be lost to it once again.
It is with thanks to the Pause that my mind has been given the luxury of enough time to develop the insight and sensitivity necessary to recognize the signs and symptoms of the Boil, the numbness was over.
The isolation of the Pause allowed me to reflect and consider whether or not it was truly okay to allow myself to become my top priority. The price in doing so is giving up on the naivety that allowed me to hope that the world would eventually reward me for being a good person, but it’s the only way to I can imagine finding the motivation to help me define and deliver the reward that I want, but also need, for myself.
As we entered into month 18, I found myself looking for ways to cling to the lessons learned over the pandemic’s first year. One of those lessons was screaming too loudly to be overlooked, set aside, or forgotten and eventually lost to the Boil. If I didn’t respond to the signs of the Boil setting in again and decide to take action, all the months of isolation would be for naught, and the lessons lost by the time the world finally takes the turn around the last corner that puts COVID-19 behind us.
The call to explore what I now call my art was strong enough that on a frustrating afternoon when I was questioning life, the world and everything within it, I turned to the continuing education calendar of a local school and plunged right in, enrolling in a creative writing course. I thought, ‘well here’s a chance to prove that you’re serious about exploring your art in writing, take the course, and if you make it through, take another.’ So here I am, wedged between a blog that is both loved and neglected by me, and a creative writing course that might already have served it’s purpose by week 3, and yet I find myself writing for the blog again, and will make time for the course tomorrow. If the Boil is negative, what is getting lost in your art? Freedom? Joy? Bliss?
My and Bae’s home has changed with the arrival of the temporary new member of the household (whom I’ll refer to as Mouse). Two months in, I’ll say I’ve finally embraced the reality of sharing my living space with a teenager for the first time, even if it has meant giving up some of the safety and comfort that I typically can only find in my personal space. Thankfully I’ve adapted to the change, but I’m still hoping that in time we’ll all come to fully appreciate the opportunity to learn from each other. I have little doubt that with Bae and I having decades more life experience than our country mouse house guest, that we will be the first to recognize the differences and benefits this experience has and will bring to our lives, but I do hope at some point she will look back and reflect upon (maybe in her own writing efforts) the positive differences we all might have made to each others’ lives.
The grip the Pause’s brakes put on our lives might well be slipping, but I’m glad that this time I’m able to recognize the danger of the approaching Boil in order to avoid being lost in the new reality that establishes itself.
I’ve happy and relieved to able to feel again, to know that I’m growing again, this time on a variety of fronts; and I find myself thinking things and asking questions of myself that if it weren’t for the arrival of a young teenaged mind to the household, I might never have dedicated a second’s worth of consideration to again.