Hibernation

Maybe I should start writing again.

Six weeks hardly feels like a long time, but considering that, not long ago, I used to blog every day, 40 days without writing anything feels… sane. I miss that feeling I used to get when I’d witness something, feel or experience something, and I couldn’t wait to get to my keyboard and share my insights with the world. I miss utilizing those parts of my heart and brain. I got rather good at it, and it felt good to do it, to share, to put myself on paper like that. It gave me a continuity.

But lately, I’ve been in hibernation mode. The failure to measure up to some undetermined form of success has been weighing on me. I grew weary of asking for help,  of expecting a particular audience size, of waiting for books to sell. The documentary has taken much longer than I thought, the book has gone quiet, the crowd sizes at story-telling events are in the tens instead of the hundreds. My love for writing and creating has been replaced by pain over a lack of results. And so I face either trying to reformat, again and again, in hope that the numbers go up, or I just let myself go numb a bit. Stop caring about the results and just enjoy the process. Either that, or… I just… don’t. Don’t write. Don’t let my brain get busy and divided. Don’t dream up projects I’ll never finish. Don’t let my awe get inspired by stories I wish I could tell. Because if I dim the frustration, then I can just, maybe, be a peace for a while? But that also means dimming the dreaming. And who am I, who is this new me, without all of that?

And so, I’ve gone quiet lately. I turned 41 a few weeks ago, surrounded by friends at a party I hosted for myself. My boyfriend of nearly 3 years and I took a wonderful vacation to Thailand for a week and I had some of the most foreign and unexpected experiences of my life. My children are stable and content, thriving and happy. I’ve organized the house. I’m setting goals for the new years. My business is doing very well and in a nice building phase. My boyfriend is working from home now. It is nearly 2020, and the news cycles pass by with increasing speed.

I have so, so much to be grateful for. And I am. But that dreamer part of me, the part with more expectations, has gone quiet. I’m at peace, and it is… comfortable. A thousand things I could be writing about, yet I’m not writing. I’m not depressed. I’m not bitter. I’m perhaps a little tired, and maybe a little scared.

There. That right there. That’s why I write. It sorts me out. I just realized I’m scared. I couldn’t have verbalized that before, but now it is so apparent to me. I’m scared of that ongoing unsettled feeling. I’m scared to trust more people who will, in whatever form, let me down. I’m scared to ask for help. I’m scared to expect things from others. And I’m scared that I’m going to remain scared of those things, that I’ll grow callused, sealed up, unwilling. I’m scared that these failures, these inabilities to achieve “success” in its various forms, is going to result in me no longer doing the things that I love.

But there he is, the dreamer. He’s sleeping. He’s gone quiet, but he’s there. Because who else but me would willfully say he is hibernating in one sentence, say how he has gone quiet lately, how he is not writing lately… and then write about not writing in the next.

I miss questing. I miss the process of building the documentary, unearthing mysteries one interview and newspaper article at a time. I miss crafting stories. I miss outlining plays, comic books, projects in my brain, and wondering when I’ll find time to write. I miss the unrest. And it is baffling to realize that, but it makes sense of me. I come alive during those times. Those who love me can see it. My boyfriend can see it. When I come home with that light in my eyes and I have the craziest story to tell him, with the most enthusiasm in my voice. I don’t love the painful parts, but I need them to give me the drive. I need the striving back. I’m not so sure I was made for hibernation, for contentment. (But maybe I can carry some of these lessons with me moving forward…)

So maybe I start writing again. Maybe I don’t care about the numbers of people who read it. Maybe I grow discontent again, and I don’t get so threatened by that. Maybe I stop being afraid of being afraid. Maybe I’m more disciplined with my time. (And who I trust, and my money, and my nutrition consistency, and…) Maybe I lean into dreaming again, into a new project that I can pour my love into.

Maybe.

Maybe it’s time to wake up.

Damn, I didn’t sleep very long.

when you’ve stopped looking

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Because I’m me, and you’re you, and we are perfectly different from each other and exactly the same.

At times, I grow weary of the human capacity, and I end up sitting down at a blank keyboard and typing existential thoughts about human existence and human experience and human sacrifice and human vulnerability and human trust.

When I get in these moods, I know that I have had too much work lately, too much dwelling upon the pains of others as a therapist, and too little time for self-care or adventure. And this week would qualify as such.

And thus my opening statement. I have a whole human universe within me, and everyone has the same capacities in them. If I sat and made a list of the issues that have afflicted my family during my 37 year old lifetime, it very likely wouldn’t look that much different from yours.

abuse, divorce, drug addiction, religious shame issues, coming out of the closet, communication issues, parenting stress, passive aggressiveness, depression, anxiety, diabetes, aging, loneliness

I could keep the list going for pages as we all could. I take a wider look at my family as they exist right now, and I think of how much we have all changed in ten years, five years, one, even just a few months. My mom now has been watching her husband, in his early 80s, get dizzy and fall, while dealing with her own chronic headaches. My sister is balancing out the deadlines of her college assignments with her work responsibilities, all while trying to find time for exercise and her wife. My nephew, after dating unsuccessfully for a few years and putting himself through school, is suddenly planning a wedding to a beautiful girl. Another sister, who spent years with no children and who has now adopted three, is chasing three boys around, running herself ragged in an attempt to keep up and provide a happy home for her busy boys. My son, well-adjusted in his school, homework coming easy to him, reading and learning and exploring and asserting his independence, yet still struggling a bit with anxiety and finding his place in the world.

And me, in a great place in my life, building and building, incrementally, over time, changing and growing and ascending, yet never quite settled, never quite satisfied, learning to embrace the hunger and drive that are parts of me. I’m lonely lately, and bored, even as I’m feeling powerful and accomplished. I’m pushing myself back into history and forward into potential all at once. I’m exercising, and slowly getting out of debt. I have wonderful friends, my sons are thriving, I have important family relationships. And yet, I still seek and yearn.

I have to remind my clients sometimes, after they have come through a crisis, that the problems they are facing now are normal and typical. After all the car crashes and custody trials and funerals and suicide attempts and bankruptcies, what a relief and honor to feel basic sadness, discomfort, anger, and pain.

And I’m supremely grateful for the good things in my life, I am. Yet with all of that, I still grieve and strive and push.

I’ve been out of the closet five years now. In past years, I have celebrated. But this year, I let the anniversary pass quietly by. I worked, and wrote, and exercised, and poured myself a glass of wine and watched House of Cards and went to bed by 9. I was content and bored and satisfied and hungry and lonely and confident and impatient and settled all at once.

I had a friend tell me recently, in a discussion about a few unexpected heartbreaks I went through this past year, that I’ll probably find a relationship now that I’ve stopped looking for one. I’ve been told this before, but this statement bothered me this time. When people say that, ‘now that you’ve stopped looking’, what do they really mean? Now that you have contented yourself? Now that you’ve been hurt enough times that you don’t want to risk getting hurt anymore? Now that you’ve stopped being romantic or spontaneous or asking anyone else out? Now that you have stopped having expectations of anyone you meet, and you generally expect that they will flake out or lie or be inconsistent after a date or two? Now that you are turning all of your energy toward yourself instead and have grown content with the idea that you will likely not be partnered for some time?

And that’s sad to me somehow. I mean, I’m stronger and more resolved, but I’ve lost my naivete a little bit as well, that’s what happens when the heart scars over a few times I suppose. I’m proud of myself. I don’t see a relationship as an accomplishment, or something to be acquired. In fact, my accomplishments are in the smiles and smarts of my children, and in the professional world I’ve created for myself, and in the cultivation of my talents. That said, it is still hard to be the single guy in a room full of couples. It’s difficult to look at the miracle of my sons playing together and to not have someone to share it with. It’s difficult to think of the dozens of dates, and the few times I’ve been in love, and to still be here on my own.

And all of that brings us to this simple moment. 4:24 pm, where I sit in a coffee shop with a half empty cup of coffee and a full glass of water, strangers all around me, classical music playing, two nicks stinging on my chin from where I cut myself shaving earlier, my back aching from sitting too long, my head and heart as complicated as they ever are, typing this stream-of-consciousness blog on a white screen. I will soon post it and no one will read it, or a handful of strangers will read it, or loved ones will read it, or hundreds will read it, and some will be sad and some bored and some annoyed and some inspired.

And soon I’ll leave here and step back into my life, the one that is still the same, yet different from ten minutes ago, as I am always the same and ever changing.

Because I’m me, and you’re you, and we are perfectly different from each other and exactly the same.