I am stumped about what to write this morning because anything non political feels trivial, unimportant, like a waste of time and anything political feels exhausting, too hard, like it’s slowly frying my brain.
Yesterday, I woke up for my morning write like I have every weekday for the past month, plus. I started this new routine on January 2nd – the first day of the New Year (that I wasn’t hung over) – as a way to get out of a tough place I was in writing-wise. I was a mess at the end of 2016 in terms of motivation. I couldn’t get any work done. I missed publishing blog posts week after week. I got stuck, creatively, and couldn’t get out. I feel like there are a lot of legit reasons for that considering the mood of the world from, say November 9th to now, but getting knocked down by that wasn’t my previous style.
My solution was this morning free writing ritual that I wrote about back on Jan 3. I didn’t say I was going to write every single morning, but that’s what started to happen because waking up and working first-thing shifted my mood and focus and motivation for the entire day. It was borderline miraculous. I was a little tired in the AMs at first, but soon I started going to bed looking forward to the next quiet desk sesh and naturally waking before the alarm. I ended up publishing more posts than I have in ages, and – more importantly – enjoying the process.
But – guys – it is tough out there. I’ve been trying so hard to stay positive and focused and motivated, but I’m struggling. I allow myself a little social media and CNN every day to stay up to speed because being involved and active in the resistance to this government is important to me, but even a little can take your mood from stable to shut down. All the frustration is creeping into my morning writing. I wrote a few pieces about politics that helped get the anger out of my head and into a Word doc, but, frankly, it got annoying. I’m not waking up and enjoying quiet, creative time anymore. I am spending the first hour of my day feeling down, depressed and hopeless. I keep a list of things I’ve been meaning to write about on a post-in note stuck to my giant calendar desk blotter. On it is the hysterics of training Louie to stop barking, how Debbie + Carrie made me think about motherhood, will I or will I not ever give up my addiction to cheese?? – and other such thinkers that would be a treat to spend an hour mulling over. I can’t bring myself to write one of them. Feels too dumb right now.
So yesterday, when my alarm went off, I snoozed. I usually snooze once, but this time I snoozed again. And after the second snooze, I turned the alarm off, rolled over and gave up. I didn’t feel like staring at a blank white page and hearing my brain try to fight off writing 500 more words about how sad I am about America, and lose.
I spent yesterday being mad that I broke my morning writing record and blaming that for setting me off into a slump all day. It’s a Catch 22. If I write, I start the day furious. If I don’t write I start the day lazy. Obviously, the answer is pick another career. This was lovely while it lasted, though. We had a good run.
I came to that conclusion while sitting on the couch watching Anderson Cooper Live and checking Instagram for the 1,000th time. World: 1, Me: 0.
I actually felt that way up until the moment I started typing the paragraph two paragraphs above this paragraph. The one that starts I spent yesterday being mad. My mind thinks faster than my fingers type, so it was around there that I realized it’s not World: 1, Me: 0. It’s My World: 1, Me: 0.
I’m right. There is a lot of negativity and frustration filling my days right now. That’s because I’m working on writing projects alone in my apartment 75% of the time. I get out to exercise and do social things at night, sometimes. I’m teaching at Writing Pad on the weekends, sometimes. R and I do other life stuff that takes up time, sometimes. But I’ve got A LOT of free time that could be spent doing a lot of things that don’t involve reading political news and e-mailing/calling/sending posters to my reps in Washington. I don’t have other stories or experiences to write about because I’m not out there experiencing anything other than my same closed-off routine. How would my days be different if I was volunteering regularly? Going to an art gallery per week? Taking a walk with Louie through a neighborhood I’ve never seen? Going to a different coffee shop than the one coffee shop I go to because I know I can get my table? This is all feeling mortifyingly obvious…
So that’s one thing. But here’s another – good that I was too mad at the world to get out of bed and write in my giant terrycloth robe at my nice desk on my Macbook Air.
Awhile back my friend Kelaine, the EIC over at The Prompt, wrote an awesome piece about how we deserve to suffer because it is an excellent element of emotional life.
I loved what she said. I agree with all her points. My favorite was:
We, as a society, have become so focused on optimization, convenience, and comfort that we, as individuals, have forgotten how to suffer. How to find the pleasure in pain. We forget that the real work – the stuff that actually matters – is not something you can skip or automate.
But enjoying the concept and experiencing the effects are very different. I have suffered very very little in my life. And to be very clear I am not suffering in the real sense right now. I am safe. I have money. I have health. I have family. In fact the only thing I’ve technically lost since Donald Trump took office is a lot of faith and one morning writing session.
I think I could stand to spend a few mornings working through the ranting. It would probably serve me to be more uncomfortable, more often. I didn’t like sitting down and being angry first-thing today, but you know what, that’s where I’m at and maybe I could learn a thing or two by facing it instead of retreating. Like I did 30 minutes into writing this.
I feel better right now, but not great. There’s still a lot of issue jammed up in my head. I didn’t love having to admit a few things I admitted in some paragraphs up there. But I made progress. I figured one, maybe two little things out, for now. And I’m going to do a few things differently today.
So I guess it’s Morning Writing: 1, Me: 0.
Maybe tomorrow I can start to day by suffering through the discomfort of addressing why everything in my life is a mini competition with myself?
Or more politics. Feels easier to figure out.
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