I’ve somehow entered a time in my life where I’ve never written more, and yet, I have grown out of being a regular writer. I look back at the last post I wrote, so full of hope and openness, and while I don’t think that person disappeared over the first half of 2022, she’s certainly become more tired, less made of patience (not that she had too much to start with), and if anything, more impatient for some sort of sign as to what to do next and how to keep moving forward in any direction. She’s more frustrated, less hopeful and more aware of how much she needs a break from smiling and trying only to get her teeth kicked in by the universe. She’s tired of looking at a board full of deadlines that seems to simultaneously stagnate and multiply, when what she wants is a fresh start. In short, she feels stuck.
It’s a muddy sort of stuck, like walking familiar woodland paths after a hard rain and the mud just keeps slightly pulling at your shoes. I’m not stopped from doing anything, just highly aware that I’m trudging the same routes and not only are they not opening up new vistas, but, they also just seem to pull at me, with just enough weight that I feel a constant pressure. It’s just short of irritating, just enough to feel mildly fatiguing. Just enough to make both stopping full out or continuing onwards feel like equally bad decisions. No matter what I choose, I still feel things pulling at me, still feel a bit sticky.
There is something about summer in adulthood — it’s almost like we were all trained to look forward to the absence of school and in that training never noticed how busy this season remains, while also languishing. If the efforts of the winter and spring were unsuccessful, summer is where we learn to sit with it. The heat and humidity make it hard to physically want to move and can drive home lack of movement in other areas of life. It is the lull between application opportunities, between waiting for things to start in full swing. It is when I most feel on a hamster wheel, uncertain of if I should try to get off, or even how to get off. In several years now of waiting for the right moment and opportunity for change, of being poised to leap into the unknown, I’m realizing that I actually feel less ready to jump and more frozen in a single set of movements.
There is also something incredibly draining about only being able to make a decisions a year at a time. Where we live, what we do, what our future looks like – I used to think in five and ten year spans and for the last few years, my planning has been determined in 6 month blocks instead. It makes it difficult to feel like there is any kind of wide open sense of possibility ahead. Whether wanting ‘adventure in a great wide somewhere’ or wanting to be able to build something long term, neither is possible with knowing where you might stand. But that is just the problem, I’m not really standing anywhere; I don’t have a fixed point from where I can make plans, and move forward. I just have that hamster wheel, that well-worn track to either nowhere or continually approaching the same starting point. Someone said something about the definition of insanity being doing the same thing and expecting something different. It is interesting how the norms of my chosen profession expect us to do just that. It is interesting too how so much in this world expects us to respond to changes in such ways that the world manages to stay exactly the same for those comfortable with how things are or have been. These things are not unrelated; I feel them more in this season’s restless yet languishing humidity.
I have a satin pothos which seems to be struggling as much as I am in this season. I had bought him last winter. I named him Philippe. I only know what sort of plant he is because he went from full and vibrant to limp and struggling over the last month and I had to start doing some research. But when a plant is ailing, the solutions are pretty straightforward. Prune, repot, maybe take some cuttings from the healthy part for propagation as a backup. I have five such cuttings sitting in shot glasses on my table at the moment. But unlike those cuttings, I can’t chop off bits of myself, divide myself, and just wait for each separate self to take root. Humans just don’t work that way. But I like to imagine it might be possible, that I might be able to compartmentalize a little bit – not shut things away but rather set parts of myself to the side and maybe focus on sides that have been ignored in the relentless pursuit of a singular goal.
But even if I do find a way to grow in more directions, for now, it will be still with one foot on that treadmill, one shoe clinging to the muddy track. The truth is, I don’t know how to make this change, or what I might change to. What I do know is that I have a whiteboard with obligations and deadlines. I have things I have meant to do, and things to write in the next six months. Maybe by midwinter things will feel different. Or maybe, the most I can hope for is a new version of Philippe the satin pothos to be thriving despite the decline of the original. But for now it is the last Friday in June, two cuttings have sprouts, we know where we’re living for the next year, and in the next thirty days, I will be closer to done with abstract things that were set in motion anywhere from six months to two years ago, and can then turn my attention more closely to my more concrete everyday life and my thoughts of how I want to live it going forward.