It’s one of the times of the year where something is ending and something is beginning but the thing that is ending hasn’t ended yet and the thing that is beginning hasn’t fully arrived.
A liminal state.
I also think of this as being in the hallway. You’ve left one room and you’re on your way to the next but you haven’t gotten there yet.
I’m not good at transitions. The jostling that comes with moving oneself from one place or one reality or one job or one relationship or one season to the next.
I crave definition. Look, it's summer. Well here in the northeast, the unofficial end of summer is Labor Day, and yet it’s still warm. But, the light has changed, trees have begun to turn and there’s the slightest chill in the air. But it’s still summer. So confusing.
Transitions can cause feelings of betrayal--how dare you stop being the thing I was used to? How dare you change! And of course, there’s always nostalgia.I really don’t want this summer to end.
Living in this small town, in the cottage in the woods has been an ideal place to spend the shutdown and, not having to or not being able to travel, more accurately, I have really been able to settle into life at home.
For the past however many years, whenever I would fly back from LA, it took me at least a week to recover. I’d experience it as my body being back but myself---the complicated thing that inhabits my body---would be slowly moving through the skies, like a Macy’s parade float, floating somewhere over Nebraska, delayed in its arrival, longing to be reunited with its container.
I shared this quote by Amber Sparks with my writers groups the other day, “When you write a book there’s always a point where it feels so incredibly dumb and embarrassing to be writing the book you’re writing.”
One of the reasons so many people don’t do the things they long to is the terrifying middle area between their current reality and the one they dream of. It’’s the conundrum of being a human--our need for constancy within the reality of constant change. How to respond sanely to what is in many ways, the test of a successful life? But I don’t want to change!
Spending so many years in LA might have complicated this condition for me. The changes of season there are subtle, things slide into one another, winter slides into spring and so on. The differences are not dramatic.
Here, Bobby actually does one of those clothes switches--he brings out sweaters that have been in storage since March, puts away shorts and tshirts. These sorts of plans and practicalities are beyond me.
We are steeped in uncertainty. The fall brings the election, what is going to happen? And then the cold--what will this mean for the virus? Will it come raging back once everyone has to be indoors again? And what about the fires? And all the other ways the environment is changing?
How to stay in the day? Gratitude, yes, meditation, focusing on the task at hand, remaining engaged in good work, mindfulness, which for some might look like increasing out attention toward everyday activities--focus on the salad you’re making, count your breaths as you walk, listen for how many different sounds you can hear in the woods.
It’s hard to fully accept that we have a choice about how to experience our days, especially when we are distressed.
I am someone who can focus very concentratedly on my work or a creative project, the problem comes when something else wants my attention. I have to wrench myself away, this brings up irritation and resentment--why do I have to deal with this?? But those things asking for my attention are often good and necessary things: make lunch. Go for a walk. Take a nap.
Is there somewhere between an on/off switch? Can it be set to medium? In a time of such extremes, how do we live in the middle?