A tree fell on my house this weekend. It was loud…and yet somehow unsurprising. That’s right, I’ve reached the point of the 2020s where a tree can fall on my house and the first thing I say is “huh”. (Following the three-letter word, there may have been a few four-letter words. But they were still delivered in a monotone.)
A couple days earlier, my coworkers and I were checking in with each other. One by one, we tried to say we were “fine” and then — because we’re thankfully not in the habit of supplying each other with false niceties — we each relented and shared the ways we are not quite fine.
On the other hand, I’m not un-fine. I’m tired. I’m numb. I’m becoming accustomed to the feeling of disappointment. In the parlance of 2021, I’m probably “languishing.”
I recently felt a pang of sadness upon seeing an older-model Toyota Yaris. If it had words, that nostalgic little pang would have said something like: Oh, when I owned one of those cute little cars, my life was sooooo much better, happier, easier. If only that car hadn’t been stolen and turned into a tiny drug lab!” That whole sentiment is, of course, equivalent to a pair of rose-coloured glasses. When I’m honest about the things I dealt with during the decade I owned that car, there were some very hard things. And I managed them. So, it stands to reason, I will also manage today’s hard things.
Sure, my current car spends more time at or near a hospital than the Yaris ever did. It has been exposed to significantly more hand sanitizer during a plague. Its stereo speakers relay the news of a head of state who was recently outlasted by a globally-broadcast head of lettuce. Among many other alarming things.
Certainly, there’s the obvious truth that many people have situations much worse than mine. I don’t say that in a self-berating, “I have a home and food and a job, so why aren’t I more grateful” kind of way. It’s just a fact: there are people with much worse situations than mine. And while they may not feel like they’re thriving, they are somehow surviving. Perhaps more directly relevant: there are versions of me who have experienced much worse in the past…and I am also surviving.
That’s not always my first thought these days, but it’s true. When I can’t bear to attend another meeting but go anyway, I hear something interesting, smart or witty; I connect with another person…and I am ultimately glad I went. When I bump into a longtime colleague that I haven’t seen in ages (as happened earlier today), I can’t always make my face, voice or body move out of their stuck-numb-monotone settings and into the gratitude I actually feel…but I leave the interaction feeling hope from the anecdote they shared about their funny, resilient kids.
I know what it’s like to be more burned out, more depressed than I am today – and I’m quite determined not to go back there. So, even when I feel like a precarious and already-dangerously-high Jenga tower waiting to fall down, I also know that I am, actually, doing mostly fine.
At some point in the very near future, I’m going to need a roof inspection. I don’t know where that will fit into the rest of the already-overwhelming Adulting list. But it will fit.
I’m sorry about this blog post if you were waiting for commentary on any number of depressing elections, court decisions, socioeconomic trends, and so on. I’m still in the middle of trying to manage the same situation I wrote about in my last post, and it’s taking all my energy to stay as level as possible.
On the other hand, if you’ve read this far and you also know what it feels like to be “fine” in these heady days of 2022, I see you. I’d like to hug you. I’d like you to know we’ll be fine together.