I find myself oftentimes overwhelmed by the simplicities of life. When all the responsibilities and callings of the day to day pile up inside my home and I see dishes that need to be done, laundry that needs to be cleaned, a broken washer, and a mountain of garbage by my door I think to myself “how did I do it all before?”
Recently I was relaxing with my wife and we were talking about how much has changed since we began dating, and what in our lives has shifted so dramatically that we both feel stressed and burdened by the tiniest of things. She’s recently found herself with a second job while I tread through the pool of available jobs hoping for a callback and while I’ve been waiting I’ve had plenty of time for two things: Writing and Thinking.
Let’s be honest though, all I do is write and think. That’s pretty much my day from sun up to sundown, whether I have a job or not, and still, despite how much has changed about my world over the last few years, some things will always be the same. I will constantly be on the cycle of forgetting and remembering the things that bring me life. A curse I’ve long tried to avoid is repeating myself. Ever since I first began writing on here I wanted each new week to be something fulfilling and different, I wanted to face a problem and then fix it and move on and the reality of life and what I’ve learned (especially lately) is that there are things I will always struggle with. The way I sort everything into boxes and keep things so safely spaced inside of my mind has, admittedly, for a long time been my go-to method for dealing with difficulty. I compartmentalize everything, and I literally mean everything. There is not a single feeling I have that does not belong in a specific box, on a specific shelf, in a specific room within my mind. The fact of the matter is, is that if I don’t compartmentalize this way I am afraid I won’t be able to handle the world around me.
The thing about breaking down your own systems and support beams, you start to quickly realize what you utilize mentally that keeps you safe and protected and when you no longer have those things, everything else feels like it is going to break down around you. If you read my last post, you read a lot about boxes and how I use them inside of my mind. Everything is a container for everything else and I rely on those containers to keep my heart and mind organized. Without organization, I am a wholesale disaster. You would be surprised if you could look into me and see how I separate everything. I have my day organized second by second and even when I waste my time, I don’t let it bother me because I think I subconsciously made the decision that most of the things I do day to day are unimportant.
Because of this organizational method, I employ so heavily I often find myself switching around the boxes frequently, looking for something with a bit more meaning than what is on my mind at the time. It’s like I can’t actually see the whole contents of the box I’m in unless I am not inside of it at all, and I’d rather not be any more out of my gourd than I fear I am already. I envy those who can maintain difficult schedules and plans and ideas and people and over time I’ve come to the realization that I am simply not one of those kinds of people. Many hands make for light work, but when I am trying to offer myself into the hands of more than a few grasping shadows I quickly find myself pulled apart by the things I believe are adamant and permanent.
I see this a lot in my free time. Most of the free time I have comes in waves, I finish writing for the day and then game or whatever, and that whatever usually interrupts the time I should be doing chores or spending with my pups or seeing my family and friends and I have fallen into the habit, especially since the pandemic, of hand waving responsibility and carrying on in my own little, make-believe world of boxes and files and plans.
So, earlier this year when some of my good friends decided to move out and they called me up to help, I struggled. “It’s my free time,” I said. “I don’t want to go, they really don’t need any help anyway.” And yet my boxes dictated to me that I had no choice but to go. It was what they would do for me and as a matter of fact, it is what they have done for me and my family every single time I’ve needed their assistance throughout my life. I’ve been able to call on this particular friend and he is there, even to the point of sacrificing his free time which is something that I simply cannot do.
Really, I like to live in a land of make-believe where I have endless time and an endless supply of inspiration and determination and the sun never rises and I am always writing and as much as I want that world to be real, it is only as real as the compartments I’ve built inside of me. It doesn’t exist, especially if I do not. So, when my friend called on my assistance I went, but as I went I wondered what it would be like to have the free time to do things wantonly and with such ease as they do. I know they are as busy as I am and yet, I realize in these short moments between projects that I am not at all that busy. I make myself believe that the work I’m doing while I’m staring at my screen is good and wise work and yet when the day ends and I find myself crawling back into bed I wonder why I couldn’t do more?
I have this list, these priorities: My wife, my pups, my writing, my friends, my family, my job, my house, and finally at the bottom of the list, myself. The order of these priorities is intrinsically linked to the things I spend most of my time worrying about, too. First, my wife and dogs, if they are okay and happy with me, if I am enough for them, then I wonder about my writing and obsess over a new manuscript when the last one is barely through editing. I possess myself with worry about my friends and family and what they think of me, will they help me when I need it? Have I been a good enough friend? Have I cursed myself by doing what I do day in and day out? By the end of a given day, I’ve thought so much about everyone and everything else that I barely have the energy left to consider myself and my household duties. So the dishes don’t get done, the laundry piles up, I forget to pay our bills.
Like black magic, somehow those small things stack together and create a problem inside of me that can’t be fixed by thought, it can only be fixed by action. I’ve long preached the power of doing good things for your friends, especially when you don’t know what to do with your life. “If you don’t know what to do next, do good,” I said. Which I still believe, but the me that wrote those words then is a dramatically different me than the one that is writing these words now.
What if you don’t have the energy?
I’ve been tired, emotionally, mentally, physically. Things don’t seem to be going my way and I have certainly spent a grand measure of time talking to my wife about how bullshit it all is, and I’m starting to wonder if I really believe that deep down. Once upon a time I would fight that notion with tooth and nail and adamantly deny that there could be a day where I would reach this place, but that’s the thing with mental health and your own spirit, sometimes, things are hard for no reason. Sometimes, you won’t ever get a reason and you will have to go through life in the best way you know how.
So here I am, driving to our friends’ old apartment with my wife wondering why I don’t feel the same inspiration I used to feel, wondering why the world constantly feels like it is falling apart around me when I know it isn’t, my life is better than it has ever been and yet I wake up most mornings and remain in bed with a sore heart instead of stepping out to enjoy that life. I thought a lot while we cleaned that day and we laughed and joked and had a good time, and it reminded me of the very first thing I posted on this blog. Years ago, I wrote a post about this very same person, in this very same setting. It was much shorter and without a purpose, but the message was still there. I posed the same question and came up with the same answer that I did today…
If you go out into your life, you’ll notice that people everywhere are missing something. Every puzzle piece is different and we all need spots to be filled. I think we all get caught up, myself especially, in this fantastic idea that we are enough for ourselves all the time, and I don’t buy into that. If we were meant to be alone, there wouldn’t be so many of us.