Update: My job ended and I’m moving to LA next month. The changes are hitting me hard this week, as I’m wrapping up a familiar life in my favorite city and trying to create a footing somewhere new and intimidating. This is rough patch that I know I’ll get through. These are some thoughts I’ve jotted down during my (ample) spare time.
How did I used to write memoirs? Truth is, it was always a crapshoot. The only routine I’d instated was working in a café. Getting myself to the café was the trigger for the habit. Everything after that was in ..a higher being’s hands. I’m not sure how I can do this. So once again, I’ve gotten myself to the café. The brief rush of caffeine or a pastry ameliorating the pain and hesitation I have of leaving the house at all.
But I have a low threshold for pleasure and these stimulations are enough to still lure me out, after all these years. over seven years of stalled motivation or interest to write anything at all personal. Except for profitable writing like a marketing email or website copy, I basically haven’t written.
English is foreign to me when I have to devise what goes on the page. So many options, and so few ideas in my big empty head. I’m looking out this café window hoping something external will strike me, so I don’t have to go through the labor of looking inward. All I see are lithe young bodies walking around in the nice weather (I’m in a university town).
I think about my own body, enough though it’s the last thing I want to think about…I’ve given up on a body getting me anywhere. In a few weeks I’m moving to the land of youth, at a time my body is on the cusp, at best, of youth and middle age. My body is as good as it’s ever going to get. I’ve always sort of harbored this hope that I’d attain a body I’d want to proudly display—that I’d turn into a ‘swan” as they say on talk shows. But it’s almost with relief that I put those aspirations aside now.
It’s time for my mind to shine, but have I put anything in it all these years other than diet tips and music lyrics? No not that I can recall at the moment. This relinquishing of my reliance on supple skin and thin arms and a determination to start being a person of substance is an experience I’m probably sharing with 30 year old women, especially single women, all over the country.
Still, every day I drink my green juice hoping it will keep my skin soft and clear. Every day I feign offense when someone calls me “Ma’am”, every day I give myself excuses for not writing a book or starting a family or getting a promotion because I still feel 20. All sacrifices of my time and energy that feel like too much work. Too much sacrifice. But what am I sacrificing? This feeling of being totally untethered? Yes, that’s the main thing. No responsibilities, no failure, no attempts.
On some level I want this feeling don’t I. How does this make me any better or enlightened than those who push forth into the tasks, the hard work, the sacrifices, even though they know just as well as I do that they might not mean much? It doesn’t make me better, it makes me worse. Because at the end of they day, they have something to show for it. And I have a list of things I don’t want to do and have crossed off my future.
The thing is to know that life is filled with hard work that makes very little sense, but to keep doing it regardless and push past that so maybe there’s something fun and new that comes out of it. Though I don’t feel depressed, this lack of agency and movement is akin to the depression of being uninterested in things. Asking what it “means” all the time and putting so much weight on that, it’s silly. It’s a product of my parents’ generation and my upbringing, but instead of “why” I need to ask “what” and take the action towards doing.
We find our own callings and whims and follow them through as best we can. Otherwise what are we. Well, in my case, I’m my mother. she doesn’t do anything she doesn’t need to do, and she doesn’t need to do anything. End of story. Nothing gets done. She has zero substance or accomplishments barring giving birth and a few other socially-imposed tasks.
Find something that makes you smile and want to improve, and do it with all your heart. That’s what this journaling has taught me. this begs the question–is writing actually what I want to do? Have I been idolizing the life and title of “writer” so long and beating myself up about not doing it, when I should’ve been pursuing other things?
Well, the idea of being a writer still entices me more than almost any other profession, and that counts for something. But my lack of motivation is cause of concern. I’m at a loss. So I’m going to take a bite of my pastry instead. That’s life. You work hard at something. Then something confusing or difficult stalls you, and you take a bite of a blueberry muffin.
I’ve taken many bites of blueberry muffin when I should’ve given more thought into the actual problem at hand. Mistaking my need for meaning and drive with hunger for sugar. There I go again, taking another bite of pastry I’m not hungry for. We don’t eat sugar when we’re hungry, we eat sugar to be more hungry because nothing else sounds appealing at the time and we need to feel something. We need to feel the desire for something simple that can actually be satisfied, as opposed to the gnawing insatiable void I feel when it comes to my questions regarding life, writing, purpose.