If you are anything like me, your days are spent chasing away personal demons, feeling like time doesn’t exist while simultaneously moving too fast, and by feeling exhausted trying to remember that the world exists while trying not be overwhelmed by it. It both feels like too much and nothing is happening all at once and we are living in a dream (or a nightmare) that won’t end.
I’ve been sitting here for weeks trying to decide what to talk about, but everything just feels too… removed? Unreal? Petty? Helpless? All of the above?
So I’ve been sitting down to write most days, and nothing comes out. The world feels too big and too abstract, while I am just a small part of it. What can I do that has any meaning? I can’t even manage my pain, nightmares, or feed myself regularly, let alone do anything of importance. What can I do about any of this *gestures at the world*?
I’m guessing many of you are feeling much the same way.
One of the hardest parts of 2020 (let’s be real 2021 too) was the ongoing feelings of disillusionment and helplessness that come with it. So many of us are grieving, strained, feeling unsafe, and/or deeply alone. With that poor mental place and significantly more time on our hands; many of us cannot ignore the many issues we “don’t have time for” and take us away from “just having fun”. The stark reality is, these things have been here the whole time, we just busied ourselves and prioritized differently.
Yet it’s time we stop focusing only on what has been lost (in terms of enjoyment and “normality”) and begin looking forward to creating the changes we want to implement in the world. Yes, the problems are huge, overwhelming, and it is easy to feel a lot of existential dread and to fall into hopelessness. On the other hand, that means that every chip we take out of them is more progress than there has ever been. 2020 has forced us to look at where we may have not been living our lives in the ways we want to, to look at all the opportunities we have for change for the future. Isolation is hard because it makes us believe that we are alone, and reminds us everything is finite.
But that means that this too will end, as all things do. When it does, who do you want to be? What do you want to stand for? How will you live up to your own values, yourself? What are the first steps you can take towards integrating that into your life so that when life gets busy again, it’s easy to keep it up when it’s nice to be comfortable? When it’s just as easy to stand by, what you want to do and be?
I want to leave you with a few thoughts.
One comes from a dear friend that I think about often. Essentially, he encouraged me to look at tasks that seem huge and make a little progress every day, and when you miss a day, when you slip, acknowledge it – and get back on task. There is no shame, but the biggest challenge is starting.
The second is a Black mentality: Life is about duality. Suffering is a part of life but so are love and joy. Do both. Find ways to enjoy life despite the limitations, unfairness, cruelty. Laugh in the face of the absurd. Passionately make something out of nothing. Create art and community to support you through the hardest times. And, this is important, Don’t settle for that being all there is. Strive for better, take action, make the hard choices, love hard and fight harder. Time is for building towards improvement and innovation with respect to the past. It is, the only way to respect what was.
Finally a quote:
Hard shit is hard. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be hard shit.
Thanks for reading. My brief look at social media tells me I need to share this article again. Surprise! Racism hasn’t ended just because visible protesting has ended.
If you want to learn more about how we got here, I suggest checking out this class.