The week’s tunnel stretches out before me and electricity shoots from my hair. I am not doing enough but catching up is too much. So I stop. I feel so much better.
Monday I decide to take a week off writing, or at least make it light. So far more off than light, with little static. Someone says when you do all you can do, relax. But there’s always more that can be done, always a little bit extra. Jobs prey on this with performance reviews, activating the same guilt church and school instilled–or made use of. Continuous improvement can’t go on forever, but still it gnaws on me. The book isn’t going to write itself.
The sense of scattering panic is less, but the fatigue could be greater with rest. Is my chronic fatigue friend back? Him and Monkey are quite a pair. They should do a show. You can watch. I’m sure I’ve seen it.
Monday is sunny and I’ve driven to work, giving myself about an extra 50 minutes that day not spent riding or transferring or waiting for the bus. Leaving work is an easy jog over and down to Alki. Walkers and joggers and every infant armored in an SUV stroller is out, huffing and puffing or sauntering through cold bright wind. The sky is vast with open clouds, but not massive. I realize nobody is pushing me to do anything, which, right now, is release.
I have had a schedule and goals, all modest. Nobody is cracking the whip. I didn’t meet my February goal of finishing two chapters, maybe two-thirds done with one. A story was rejected–my first rejection since I stopped submitting stories three years ago. But I met my January goals (just get started, with an outline), and I edited stories, wrote a synopsis, had some solid story-fulfilling insights on walks or listening to the radio. I wrote them down. Someone says important work can happen when not writing too, and I trust this is true. It’s all effort, and then I go to the job.
I talk with an old friend about my first-world problems: work, time off, savings, security, isolation, what’s important, The Point. It isn’t a new conversation, and I am grateful to have friends that keep listening. He laughs. You know, in a million years it won’t make any difference. He doesn’t mean it dismissively, to highlight futility, to suggest giving in to nihilism. I think he means even the long game goes on too long for us to see the end, or for it to matter to us, we little specks of matter and light. Even in that distant future it would still be a game. The game goes on but doesn’t understand continuous, or improvement.
Confusing signals come in. What is it you really want to do? Think how long it took to find this job. You’re not getting any younger. You are young still. Follow your dharma. There is a leap into the dark, but you will not fall far. I have learned there isn’t a right answer to find; making lists and trying to find it will only make more lists. I still can’t quite figure it out. It feels like I never could.
I think of a dinosaur like a squirrel, hoarding trilobites or fern fronds in buried piles or the boles of trees, fussing with his stash or the shape of the space or where this petal goes until: there, just right, perfect. He works so hard, is so pleased, at least for a while. If you could go back in time, what would you tell him? I would congratulate him. That’s really great work. That hole is especially good–so round. How long have you been doing this? Wow. Oh, sorry to interrupt. Thanks for your time.
My friend’s conversation is part of the ether now, history, time, whatever that means. I was doing too much and now am doing less, and fortunately not feeling all that guilty about it. I am glad for the sun’s relief and that I thought to let it in. The cat likes that we play.