Signs of Life: Organizing

It’s tough to put a finger on what I’ve been going through the last five years or so. It’s exactly the time that I’ve been out of grad school. While I like to blame everything on the several jobs that have been well below my capabilities and thus, incredibly annoying and somewhat damaging, the truth is the darkness existed long before that. I absolutely never want to negate or lessen the experience of those who actually have clinical depression by suggesting that I’ve been in that camp; I have not. No, what I’ve suffered is probably actually a true, crushing heartbreak laced with elements of self-destruction and self-doubt. Let’s call mine a disillusion.

The symptoms look similar to depression in some ways: Loss of interest in everything; sleeping all the time; fatigue; weight gain; escapism, hopelessness. A close friend of mine through these times has often referred to my dark night of the soul. As a true achiever, I think even St. John of the Cross would be proud of what I’ve managed here. You get the drill. Some would say there might be a basis in biology here and maybe that’s true. But honestly, I feel like and, ultimately deeply know, I’m in full control. The issue is I’ve wanted to do nothing. There might be instances of feeling like there’s nothing I can do…but for the most part, I’ve been lacking any kind of real motivation for…well, the past five years. There’s definitely more to share about why I think grad school and that dissertation was such a huge lifesuck but, suffice it to say, I emerged from that experience depleted and adrift and have felt and presented myself in any kind of work or, let’s face it, life setting largely that way since then.

In fact, the past five years are an out-of-body blur of a nauseating see-saw of apathy and ennui and then furious searching and all-out manicness around “solutions.” Either I’m hopeless and have no answers OR I’ve researched every answer and am ready to try everything 100%. Maximum effort for usually about a day. That desperation has only added exhaustion and fatigue to the slurry of listlessness and lack of purpose I’ve felt almost every day for as long as my brain-fog addled memory can reach back. But recently, as an odd Benjamin-Buttoning of COVID-19, I started snapping out of it. Maybe it was the complete upheaval of all of the structures that I feel oppressed by: the work day and work place, living a single life, being an adult, time. Maybe it was the extra rest. Time. Maybe it was having so much more control over turning off the meaningless yapping of voices at work that were, simply and frankly, unnecessary. Time. In the past five months, I’ve starting remembering things about myself that I always knew were true without question. I’ve started reaching toward them again, hearing that infallible voice that projects directly from the intersection of my heart and my gut, clear as a bell from my core, and into reality. I believe and know they’re still true. The fog has begun to lift.

Per the title of this blog post, today I realized an incredible win in the clawing, scraping trek back to myself: I’m feeling the need to organize.

For most, this is a daily occurence. For me, this was never hugely high on the list but was something I did regularly. Things always had their place; how swiftly they returned there was another matter. But part of the chaos inside has been a physical manifestation of that in my apartment. I’ve always loved a little clutter. Papers here, books there; a lived-in, slightly wrinkled kind of comfort. The current state, however, is simply patternless junk littered everywhere. It’s beyond kitsch now; this looks like a pathology. And the reason this level of clutter happens in this house is because I haven’t had the energy to care where things go. I haven’t had the energy to care where I go. I have boxes adorning every room of my house full of things that I bought to make this place into a home, sitting uncreated, with nothing but potential but nowhere to prove it. The vision for their purpose became lost. Wherever they landed, they’ve lived. Forever. Neglected. Until today.

A shameless picture of Junie.

I woke up like any other day, walked into the kitchen to get the coffee rolling (I’m drinking decaf now because biology tells me I might have adrenal fatigue…in paradoxical irony, decaf just makes we want to sleep more). I aimlessly walked into the pantry to scoop up some June food for her break of fast, just one crazy shelf after the next of intermingled cans, boxes, and 7000 whole foods reusable bags and thought, “I need to get this together once and for all.” I’ve had that thought before but what I had in my mind today was not just the urge but also the vision and the plan. “Here’s how I’m going to do it. I can’t do it all today, but I can take a step towards it.” And execution has already begun. Much like Neil Armstrong’s proportions, this is one small step in an apartment but one huge leap in the return to the life I want to be living.

I often think of my creativity, my sense of purpose and self, as a flame deep within. There are times it has roared like that crackling bonfire on the beach, blazing with abandon and exciting fury. And there are times when it is merely an ember, flickering hazily between just the slightest lick of life and ash. I’ve given in to the latter for so long, I’ve forgotten how to care about how big it can grow.

It’s time to give it air, time to give it life, time to watch it build not just back to where it’s been but to its full potential. Even I don’t yet know how big it can go. I’ve got nothing but time to see.

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