A cheery title, to be sure. Don’t worry. I’m as okay as I think any of us can be right now.
A Bath and a Moody Selfie
I tried to take a bath. I felt very old. I listened to music and tried to relax and just felt old and too big for this tiny space. I’m 6’5’’ and I can either put my legs in the tub or my upper torso. Not both at the same time. It’s one of the reasons I don’t take baths often. The low static anxiety that has been humming in the back of my brain for the last three or four years thrummed more violently. Not to the point of some kind of anxiety attack. It’s been a mercifully long time since I’ve had one of those. But it made me antsy. And combined with everything else… I don’t know. It felt like a moment. So, I took my phone and documented it with this moody selfie. Why? I started this journal up again because I wanted to write about my life in a way that got beyond most social media. It feels like social media is probably 60% frivolous time-wasting and 39.9% rage. The rest is taken up by actual life and connecting with human beings. I’ve gotten pretty tired of that.
I’ll Apologize for this Metaphor Beforehand
I’ve tried to “journal” on Facebook, but that always feels like peeing with the bathroom door open. No one wants to see that. There’s something fundamentally different about inserting your thoughts into a timeline and making a space for them that people can come to.
Here I can talk a little more at length. There’s time to expand on ideas. There’s time to talk about things with nuance. There’s time to get into the weird mix of what’s going on in my head. There’s time to make beautiful metaphors that aren’t at all weird.
The Actual Point
When I have kept one, journaling helped me make heads and tails of my brain and the world around me. I’ll be honest; this journal is more for me than anyone else. It helps me remember the things I would otherwise forget. And if I don’t document the less fun times, it’s easy to gloss over them later. And I’m not sure that’s productive. I want to remember this year. And I like to imagine a time, some point in the future, where I can think back on it safely and marvel at how things could have ever been so awful. I hope I can look back and say that this marked the end of a particularly dark period.
I, like so many others, am ready for 2020 to be over. But it’s also hard to ignore what an arbitrary end it is. When 2021 starts, COVID-19 will still be around. Trump will still be around for twenty days, and—perhaps scariest of all—the people who voted for him will be around. The people who still think COVID-19 is a hoax will be around. Well, most of them.
I think that’s the part that haunts me the most. It’s the thing that makes me feel old, powerless, and tired. This feeling of being so misaligned with so many of my fellow humans. This is not the first time I’ve felt this. In fact, I’d say it’s the third time in my life. Maybe I’ll write about that some day.
This horrible year. These terrible last four years. We’re at the ending. It feels like there’s reason to hope. But we’ve seen how fragile our democracy can be. Witnessed how willing people are to break the rules. Seen how degraded any sense of truth has become. Noted how cruel and apathetic our neighbors can be. Watched first hand how “good” people can commit the most horrific of acts. We’ve seen beauty, too, of course. We’ve seen people who will stand up for what’s right. We’ve seen that people will still crowd the streets in defiance. People have made art and music and told stories through it all.
So how do we get back to normal? And what should normal be? Because, you see, the thing I fear most of all is that we’ll get back to the way things were. If we do that, we’ve failed.