I haven’t written here recently as I have been away on vacation off and on for a few weeks.
I really needed it.
I know I am not alone in saying this has been one of the most challenging summers of my life: a harrowing rollercoaster.
I have always loved rollercoasters, and this makes special sense in light of my moody and sometimes volatile inner landscape.
There is the part with the tick-tick-tick-ticking up, anticipation building for what seems sure to be a terrifying high-speed plummet to the depths of fear and sadness.
Other times, it’s smooth sailing, that part of the coaster where it’s flat and gentle, even peaceful, where the cars ride high on the top of the structure and there is a view of the amusement park below.
And then there is the descent. Heart-racing, fingers clutching the safety bar, eyes wide with excitement, which in The ManKind Project I often hear described as joy over fear.
Certainly, there is the rush-seeking part of me that loves the descent, the feeling of velocity, the air rushing past.
Yet this summer, my nervous system has had plenty of velocity, an ironic reality given how little I have actually eft my house.
As I have mentioned in previous columns, I am having a hard time. I am worried about a lot of things.
There is work, which is always in the back of my mind, especially at 4:30 in the morning when my bladder wakes me up almost every day.
As I try to get back to sleep my thoughts turn to the To Do List for the day, and every list seems to start with all the things I was supposed to do yesterday but didn’t.
On the good days, I will read a bit of a novel on my Kindle, and find a way back to another hour or two of sleep.
But on other days, like today, the thoughts become racing and fervid, and the only thing to do is get up and get going and start putting the list to paper.
I also worry about my kids.
My daughter just flew back to Vermont for her second year of college, and she is currently in a dorm room by herself quarantining for 8 days along with a few hundred of the other out-of-state kids who had to fly to get to school.
She had to test for covid before she left, and then again on arrival, and now they are awaiting results to see if they can be released later this week to enter into a semester of “hybrid” learning, with some classes in person, and mostly online. Masks are mandatory, and social gatherings forbidden.
I am glad she is there, but my heart hurts that this is what college looks like these days. What used to be the very model of freedom, feels more like another walled outpost of caution.
My son’s high school is all online this fall, and even though he expected that, still the disappointment of not being able to sit in a classroom with his friends is palpable.
Of course I am also worried about politics and the election, and the polarization that seems to be tearing this country apart. I worry that whatever the outcome, the country will just descend into further division and unrest.
And then there are the fires.
Northern California is ablaze, again, and I have several friends who have either already evacuated, or have packed their bags to be ready for the order.
Writing about it all does seem to help.
It’s like giving the words some tangible weight on the screen of my laptop helps to pry them out of my mind, especially the unconscious part which so unhelpfully prods and cajoles me in the dark of night.
But my reality this week is about fear and worry.
I know I am not alone in this, as studies have shown that incidence of anxiety and depression in the US are through the roof, and I find it’s rare to hear from anyone in my circles that they are doing better than “OK.”
I used to really love rollercoasters, but lately, what I really want is an old-fashioned lazy summer afternoon.
I want to wake up in the morning and wonder what there is to do that day. Maybe do some gardening, or make a BLT with fresh ripe tomatoes for lunch, or go to the swimming pool with the kids, or just lay in a hammock and read a book.
Those lazy-summer days of childhood, of delicious boredom and a To Do List that never got started at all, all seem like a distant memory now, and I miss them.
I feel grief and loss for an old-fashioned summer, and I fear those kinds of experiences are becoming a thing of the past now.
I hope that all of you have gotten at least a little bit of summer, or at least some really good tomatoes.
It’s the little things that are helping me hold it together. Summer corn. Walking my dog. Talking with friends, even if I can’t hug them. Checking in with my Igroup, and remembering that no matter what, I am never alone.
Bee well, and hang in there.