Here’s what I wake to: left-sided headache, blurry eyes, some facial numbness, and an inner toddler screaming “no!no!no! waking! more sleep! no!”. My body feels old. My mind feels slow and I don’t want to face into the responsibilities of another day.
Here’s what else I wake to: birdsong, lilac through the window in the surreal light of my night-garden, a dog at my feet and the soft snores of someone I love beside me. As consciousness slowly wells up in me, I start to feel more excited for the possibilities the day could bring. I’m alive damnit!
This is the battle between life and death, gratitude vs negativity, a choice facing me every instant; will I shut myself down and off from my life and live in the sleeping death of inattention, or will I wake the fuck up and actually live the life I’ve been blessed with?
A thought came to me last night, as my brain started to ruminate on my dissatisfactions: with my body, my brain, my time, my circumstances. Particularly with my body and my weight. I started thinking about how much time I have wasted being unhappy.
I’m not talking about the big life things that catch you and fling you down and cause you to gasp for breath and struggle. Those are defining moments for sure, but in some ways we’re all built for those battles. Those are the movie-script moments of our lives and we can rise to the challenge and beat the evil foe, and all the other good cliches.
I’m taking about the small deaths of spending a day dragging because I stood on the scales and it wasn’t where I wanted it to be. Or moping about doing nothing because of household obligations that I feel too bored and drained to meet, and yet I won’t allow myself to do anything else. Or waiting. Goddamn waiting for my life to start; waiting for a guy to text, or an exam result to come, or a baby to be born, waiting for the right person to arrive so the party can start, waiting ’til I’m “pretty enough” to wear that thing, waiting for a new job to start, for the stars to align, for the moon to come. All this waiting! So much of my life spent in “pause mode” because everything isn’t perfect yet – I’m not perfect yet – and so I can’t be anything.
I think I have a choice though. I want to be alive every day. I want to be alive on a boring Tuesday, when the obligations of work and housework seem bigger than the hours in my day, and so there’s no space for “big picture me”. Yesterday’s work day felt so intense and overwhelming and it sparked so many new potential tasks that I started to feel the life being squeezed out of me under the pressure to do a lot of small (nearly meaningless) menial chores. Email communications alone took up two hours of my evening, and I had no energy left to spend on anything else but brain-off tv and sleep.
Or that’s what I chose?
Basically, I have a few pictures in mind I’d like to get down to work on, but I feel like there’s no space and energy for that priority right now. And yet there’s space for tv and internet reading? This is part of my daily life-and-death battle. My energy stores feel low, so I react by choosing to do things that actually only deplete my stores further.
Here’s a thought: reserve tv-watching for a temptation bundle with household chores. Watch that programme while cleaning kitchen or making lunches, or even in the background while drawing. Yeah, it’s not like I didn’t think of that last night. But I found it really hard to summon up the energy. This sounds negative and defeatist, doesn’t it? But I’m not giving up. My plan is to keep challenging myself to make the best choices I can. If my body and mind are telling me they’re exhausted on a particular evening, that’s okay! Of course it is – I want to listen to that. But then the best choice for that body and mind is not to lie in bed reading about Donald Trump for two hours while watching Harlots (good enough of a TV show that it is) in the background.
The solution to feeling too tired for my own life is not to get lost in the stories of others. If I’m truly too tired for “more”, then it’s time to rest; meditate, sleep, breathe. That is a choice that’s open to me – if I just pay attention.