And there’s this burning, just like there’s always been.
I don’t know how many people read this or how well those of you that do know me, so I will take this opportunity to start at the beginning. I am often prone to dissatisfaction. As a result, I curate beautiful things and surround myself with them as I have found dissatisfaction to be an innately temporary state that can be talked down, or at the very least, distracted.
Since I was 10, when death became real to me for the very first time, I have considered it to be a part of my larger narrative. Over the years, it has evolved into not some looming negativity or pessimism who seeps out of my thoughts and into my words, as one might expect, but rather this driving force for positivity and patience. When I get angry or frustrated at work, for example, I try to remember that my time spent there is equally as beautiful and precious as my time spent outside. I am not “wasting” moments of my life if I am taking it all in, taking the time to build personal relationships with those around me, discovering what their entire world looks like outside of the 9-to-5 glimpse of them I see each day. Because the whole thing is a part of my own larger experience, and it is fleeting.
When I feel anxiety, I try to reach out and touch something textured. “My God,” I think, “How I will miss the way leaves feel when I am gone.” I run my hands along the grouting of the brick walls as I pass by, turning over the small, gray pieces that fleck off between my fingertips. Searching around me for every detail of the courtyard, of the break room, of my home. Taking a snapshot of the feeling I get, not just the colors or the way things are organized, and placing those memories somewhere safe for me to recall later.
When I am sad, though, I am sad. I work quickly to process anger and anxiety because they put me into a state in which I feel off-kilter, as if I am balancing on the edge of a building, and the tightness in my chest cannot be managed by letting it overcome me but rather will force me over the edge. With sadness, though, it’s different. Sometimes, I enjoy being sad, because all of the beauty in this world is created out of contrast to this singular, powerful, and devastating emotion.
I spend a lot of time staring at Daniel and trying to imagine him in retrospect. Youth is fleeting (or so I am told), and I always worry that I won’t remember every detail of his face, every line of his body. When he does something that bothers or irritates me, I simply think, “You will miss this when he’s gone.” Even with old friends, for a reason unbeknownst to me, the things that drive you insane are the most endearing. Maybe there is comfort in the things that solicit the most emotion from you, regardless of whether the swell is positive or negative.
But there is something that has managed to creep into my peripheral and has, of late, begun to rob me of my narrative. The use of technology has aided us undoutedly, but it’s wearing on my spirit. The last few days I have felt this horrible, stomach-crushing anxiety. It lays like a ball of energy just below my rib cage and radiates constantly. Further introspection has revealed no such cause, as everything I have taken on of late is something that I enjoy, and the pressure to do well in these areas comes strictly from me internally, which means that failure is only as possible as my mind is weak to rationalize. Doing my best has become an acceptable success.
Last night, as we were laying in bed, I started talking over this pit in my chest cavity with Daniel. I told him that I am not under huge amounts of stress, and at the very least my job has become uninspiring, but not soul crushing. Then he reminded me that when I go to work, I need to remember that I am there to help make other people’s days better.
That’s when I realized what has happened. What used to drive me through frustration, the focus on the people around me, has been lost to me. Anxiety has not been mediated with the feel of the world but rather with new Pinterest boards. There are articles to read and information to consume and regurgitate like it was my own. But this morning, as I sit in my drawing room and drink my coffee, surrounded by my figure sketches, a calming shade of gray-blue paint and a magical feeling white comforter, I am missing the sunrise outside to write this. The concrete deck beyond the window began in black, and is slowly moving through the blue spectrum, reflecting the color of the sky through the trees. It is currently a gorgeous shade of gray-blue, mirroring the walls in my drawing room, and lightening every second.
I love to write. My forum is small, as it stands, and I came in here this morning to calm my racing mind by putting my thoughts into existence. By taking them out of my brain and placing them somewhere they could be seen, heard, and reflected upon. If not by an audience, by myself in a few months. But even this is robbing me of a life that I may only get one chance at. My iPad is propped open, aimed at the window bench where I can see the sun rising over my yard, and yet I am occasionally glancing down to spell-check and reread my own thoughts.
I have begun leaning on distraction to remedy my dissatisfaction, and it has reached a breaking point. My emotions no longer tempered, they are burning a hole through me. Burning, just like they’ve always been, but now without an outlet and without any tangible force on which to lay the blame. I miss my husband because I’m on my phone. I miss the world because I’m taking pictures of it and filtering them to garner the most flattering lighting, shading, and vignette, brandishing my experiences and collecting likes.
I work in technology. I spend my entire day behind a screen, and the occasional distraction is necessary, if only to break up the monotony. But it can’t be my coping mechanism. It can’t be my driving force. I can’t look back on my life and find myself staring at a screen and missing the sunrise just behind it. I won’t.
This morning I came into work and saw this video that someone shared on Facebook. The irony isn’t lost to me, but neither is the message.