Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Life, the universe, and everything

I just completed another trip around the sun. Not really a dazzling achievement, but one which I will reflect on in my own self-indulgent way.

They didn't used to be so exhausting, so physically draining, so emotionally consuming. In my defense, I was busy doing a lot more than simply "aging" this past year. 

I read two books. That fact could be more embarrassing than the accomplishment it felt like given I have owned both books for well over a year. That is why my library card goes under-utilized... oh the fees! (and the funny smell of the pages). But I did it. Hurray for escaping into a good book. Now there are two more items in the piles of stuff around my house of things I am unsure what to do with. (yes, I will donate them eventually... four years, tops). 

I was busy trying my best not to ruin my children for life. This was not necessarily a successful endeavor. Only time will tell, but I would guess it's nothing a few years of good therapy can't help. For the record, my "best" counts as what I have to give and I used most, if not all of it.

I was busy continuing my attempt to make the people around me laugh, and also widening that circle of people to include more strangers and members of the general public. Also not necessarily a successful endeavor, but for some reason continues to be fun. It makes me feel good more than it makes me feel bad, which is more than I can say about running. 

Running, another thing I tried to do more of. Not exactly sure why, since my body does little in the way of tone and tighten these days, but for a few months those runs were all of the "me" time I got. Me time, more like meh time... ammiright??!!* (*example of jokes I tell in front of other people. To be clear, I said it's fun for me, I didn't say how anyone else felt about it).

I was busy baking treats and eating some truly lovely things. Baking is one of the many things I learned from my mother and one of the few things I have to give to my children. Pro tip: when you don't have the emotional fortitude to reckon with life's difficulties, kill some time making the house smell like butter and cinnamon and then bribe them with the sugary results.

Prior to the world shutting down, we went on a bunch of fantastic trips: England, Barcelona, Austin, England (again!), Park City, Maine. That list is either a pathetic attempt at a humble brag, or a partial list of things we can't do and won't be able to do again for the foreseeable future. Ah, good times. 

For the past five months, I have traveled only in my mind. I have been a prisoner of my own lovely life. A life I was rather enjoying before the world turned upside down (yes, I've also been busy watching a lot of Hamilton). A life I have continued to enjoy at random intervals between the anxiety attacks, stress eating sessions, eliminating all contact with the outside world, re-engaging with the outside world, Netflix binges, suicidal ideations, Amazon sprees, guilt for the stress eating because so many people don't have enough to eat, home-schooling meltdowns (both mine and theirs), feeling like a prisoner in a very nice apartment, forgetting how to socialize, overwhelming concern for people I have never met, daydreaming about donuts, heightened sense of impending societal doom, and a few paper cuts thrown in for good measure (one while squeezing a lemon, which felt like the most accurate depiction of the exact moment in history it occurred in). 

That has been the life on this most recent passage around the sun. 

But there has also been love. Most notably the unbending and (at times shockingly) consistent love and support from the person who chose to spend his life with me, and whom I would have easily understood wanting to change that decision at any point, but for some reason doesn't. I feel loved which makes it possible for me to love. I love him more than I love donuts.

There has been light. In between temper tantrums and meltdowns and crying fits (mostly mine), my children have provided some levity. I have learned a lot. Mostly that they scream at each other a ton. My big takeaway is that I probably have the condition: misophonia and will simply have to learn to live in a constant state of anxiety around my own children... but I'm pretty sure that condition greatly overlaps with another condition known as parenthood, so I'll be fine. Sometimes I make them smile though, and it rights the ship and reminds me of my own capacity for love and why I love making people smile, specifically those two tiny people.

There has been laughter. Turns out I can make more than just my immediate family laugh. I can make my close friends laugh too. And in one of their words: "I thought it was going to be awkward and terrible, but you're actually pretty funny, kind of like a real comedian."

There has been family. Even though there hasn't been a lot of in-person time with our entire family recently, the connection is always felt. Together, we miss each other as if the act is enough to bring us together somehow, at least until we can be together again.

There have been great meals (and some sh!t ones too), but... so many meals shared and increased family time that I will choose to overlook that we probably relied on pasta a bit too much, and rather just focus on celebrating that we had that time. 

Remember all those trips? A lot of fun times and great food with dear friends. Did I mention the laughter? Well, it is what has sustained me this year, and fortified me to enter the next one, so probably best to mention it again.

42: the answer to life, the universe and everything. It was. I think I get it. The answer is not actually knowing everything... it is simply knowing that. That is the answer because I feel the weight of it. All of it. The weight for myself, for my family, for my community, for my country, for the world, for humankind. The weight of not knowing what's going to come, what will become of our health, our livelihoods, our love, our laughter, our humanity, our empathy, our ability to care for one another, to see good in others and to bring out the best in each other.

I don't know what the next journey around the sun will bring. I will carry with me the things I loved about this past one and prioritize them above all else: above the noise, the drama, the pain. 

Another year of life is cause to celebrate, so today I will celebrate. Tomorrow I will continue to search for ways to make it all a bit better, the way that the people I have let into my life make it all a bit better for me. At the very least I will continue to search for a way to help people smile while we tackle the undertaking of healing this world. All while continuing to search for good donuts.

Sunrise, sunset... 

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