What if it’s both?

I don’t have it in me to write an elaborate, thoughtful post. All week I’ve been scribbling half thoughts as a bizarre note in my phone trusting my future self to have the capacity to expand upon each idea. I have to remind myself that there’s value in quick thoughts. There’s even an entire social media platform thriving on the concept after all.

Being unable to imagine a future in this pandemic feels exactly the same as being unable to do so when depressed. Right now, this inability to imagine anything changing any time soon is completely baffling. Is it a brilliant long term coping strategy or a telltale sign my mental health is in trouble? What if it’s both?

I often will myself to do things through the guise of “then you can rest”. Every part of my being will want to collapse onto the floor yet somehow I manage to will myself to workout, meditate, shower, cook dinner, and tidy up my apartment before then collapsing. This time is teaching me what it feels like to do the opposite: to rest and rest some more then hope I have the capacity to live. Both strategies feel futile currently. The collapsing permeates everything and still I carry on.

I spent years of my life working hard to determine what it is I want my life to be about and now I’m having to be reminded of what it is I never wanted. I never needed this reminder: to live knowing everything could change. It’s a reminder I often give not get. If anything, once this is done, I can recognize already that I’ll have to be careful not to over index on carpe diem-like sentiments. Perhaps that’s the new lesson for me to learn in this annoying reminder of the fragility of life.

When traveling with my mom, she often will wonder aloud, “How do I know we’re in [enter city/country]?” In Lisbon, she pointed to the street tiles. In Switzerland, she became fascinated by roofs. In Amsterdam, the canals offered themselves up as an easy answer. I recently found myself using this idea for the days of the week. How do I know it’s Saturday? I write my grandma. How do I know it’s Wednesday? I have a 7am meeting. It’s offering an excuse to make each day special even if it’s in the smallest way especially on days that feel indistinguishable from others.

I am in agony missing places and people. What I wouldn’t give to lace up my cleats and play soccer in San Diego right now! Some days, I can tap into my memories to bring places back to life for a tiny moment. The following quote brings me comfort nonetheless:

“My mother said you should always travel as if you would return; if you thought you were making your sole visit anywhere, you would try to see everything and therefore wouldn’t really see anything. ‘Always leave something for next time to tempt you back,’ she said.” – Andrew Solomon


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