sustain, 5 november 2020

I’m sitting here, wrapped in fleece and contemplating the steam curling from my tea, thinking about what I’m asking of myself. I’m attempting NaNoWriMo for the second time, thus far somewhat more successfully than my first go around. I’m toying with the idea of a YouTube channel, so I have been brainstorming and beginning to film and edit potential content. I’m working on getting an art blanket business up and running (this, I’ll admit, is particularly beloved). I’m finishing some homemade Christmas gifts from last year, and working on new ones for this year (I am, of course, perpetually behind). I’m continuing to educate myself. I’m working contractually on three different projects for my research assistant work. I’m starting to think about what I’ll do after that research assistant work ends. I’m trying to eat better; I’m trying to move more. I’m trying to manage the mild but regular unwillingness to leave the house that has been greatly exacerbated by this COVID-19 year. I am, as always, trying to slow down. To breathe in this space, and in this minute, and not the space or the minute that will exist five years from now.

They say if you want to achieve something, you need to make sacrifices and make choices. Working on too many projects or changes at once ensures that none are completed or effective. Small, individual adjustments are the way to go.

But I just… I can’t. I don’t know if it’s the global pandemic, the political climate, the doom-scrolling that is unavoidable, the impact of quarantine on my mental health that has made wrangling my brain feel near impossible, the fact that there is this un-ending cacophony of catastrophe ringing in my ears and in the back of my mind and in the background of everything I do—

I am clinging to this plethora of projects like my life and sanity depend on it. I have my claws fully drawn and deeply sunk into every single one, and I refuse to let go.

I’m watching myself do this, of course, and from a distance it seems inevitable that something will drop, obvious that I cannot sustain it, clear that something is wrong. Perhaps things have already collapsed. My kitchen is a disaster. I’ve forgotten about the load of laundry that I popped in the washer, again. I’ve lost hours in days that needed every hour. I desperately need to vacuum the living room carpet. I’m eating toaster waffles at 4:28 on a Thursday afternoon. But I feel halfway—no, a quarter of the way—to something in this mess, this chaos.

I am restless, nearly always. Friends are sleeping more; eating less; struggling to focus. My responses are not so cleanly defined (and neither, I’m sure, are theirs, these wonderful complex people who share pieces of their lives with me) but all are restless. Always restless. Restlessness at 11:43 at night, when I’m desperate to be asleep and I’m overheating from the tossing. Restlessness at 6:24 in the morning, when the sun isn’t up and I want to sit and breathe in that brilliant darkness and my coffee and be, but I’m restless. Restlessness as I answer text messages from friends at 10:41 AM, 2:03 PM, 5:56 PM, 9:12 PM, pacing around our tiny house as I type like it will someday get bigger, if I only pace long and often enough.

It’s too strange to find and define emotions to try. I cry when I see the window pane crying, dripping condensation as the world freezes and I can’t draw air. The sun gilding my bed is enough to make me burst from my skin. The saxophone being played next door winding its way into my living room, where I’m laying on the carpet that needs vacuuming and staring at the ceiling that needs dusting, leaves me inebriated. Everything is more.

Not a one of my endless projects will receive singular, undivided, focused attention. I will again someday embrace the entire forest that I cannot see, just now, for the trees; they are working endlessly to keep me from falling to my knees. I will again methodically approach improvement, and education, and critical thought. There will likely be plans, and charts, and lists. There will be minutes, and hours, and days, all accounted for. There will be logic, and rationale, and a distinct lack of madness—just the grounded, liberating wildness that grows from seeing yourself and moving forward at the same time. Now, everything is strangled. It is clouded chaos wrapped in the colour stories of wool-depicted landscapes, the taste of forgotten words, the thrall of something new, the twenty-four hours of the day. It is an overwhelm of the bittersweetest kind.

Wishing you a winter cider that heats you from your throat to the roots of your hair and down to your toes,

Kate

P.S. Pour yourself another glass of water, reach out to those who might need you and to those you need, & remember that you are an ocean.

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