I never saw the movie Boyhood. I’m afraid to, honestly. I worry it will be sadder than I can handle. I remember years ago, at dinner with a friend and her husband, the movie came up. I admitted that I was terrified about the heartbreak that would result if I saw it.
“What happens, something tragic?” My friend’s husband wasn’t familiar with the movie.
“Oh, no. It is about the ordinary heartbreak of time passing.” She answered him.
“Oh, I see,” he seemed a little confused.
“In short, the most devastating thing of all.” I shook my head, trying not to think about it.
Lately I feel like I’m living in a version of Adulthood. Time’s speeding by, what feels like decades in two hours. I’m simultaneously wondering at time’s fleet passage and feeling the weight of every single passing week and month like an actual burden on my back. How can time simultaneously move rapidly and also creep by, every single moment an eternity? I don’t know, but I’m living that paradox right now.
I won’t lie: I’m limping to the end of the year. This has been a difficult year for myriad reasons and despite the fact that it’s also been replete with joy, right now I feel mostly exhaustion and stress and I can’t get out of my own way. I hate complaining. I know how intensely fortunate I am. But I’m also worn down by worries that I can name and those I can’t, full of a bubbling mix of sorrow and anxiety that grates on me all day, every day.
I try to sleep as much as I can. I go to yoga. I go for walks, breathe the air, notice the sky, watch the sunsets. I do all of these things, and daily I’m knocked almost off balance by the splendor that I see. All of that is true, and my deep awareness of all that’s good is an undercurrent even in these times that feel somewhat difficult and dark.
But I also feel overwhelmed by the demands I juggle daily. Adulthood, again: I’m sense keenly all the ways that my family needs me, all the professional responsibilities I’m trying to handle. More than anything, I just want this particular season to be over, and for something new to come. And even as I feel that, it makes me uncomfortable: one thing I don’t like is living for the future, because I believe so firmly that what’s right in front of us is both all there is and where the glittering jewel of the human existence is hidden. So I feel something that I know intuitively is not what I believe, and that dissonance is uncomfortable.
I looked in these archives for the phrase “begin again,” since I hear those words in my head every day. I don’t have a choice but to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and that not-having-a-choice is both a burden and a blessing. I was interested to find this piece that I wrote in April 2012, a full 4.5 years ago. Every single word resonates now. I’d forgotten about this theory, though as I read it it makes total sense. I wonder what I’m preparing to let go of right now? I imagine 2017 will show me.
…A lot of people look better at dealing with the sine curve of life, at least from where I sit. A lot of people – and I envy them, let me be clear – seem to experience fewer moments of spirit-shaking emotion than I do. A lot of them can describe what Easter means to their children, or admire the clear, extraordinary blue of an April sky, or witness a christening, without bursting into tears. Hell, a lot of people don’t burst into tears every single day.
Somehow that intense emotion, that wound at the very core of my being, is bearable most of the time. Right now, though, it feels like too much. I am bone-tired, my emotions are worn paper-thin, my is patience frayed. I know my life runs close to the surface, that’s not news to me. And this isn’t news, either, this sense of being deep in the weeds and of each step being a struggle. It is so not-new, in fact, that I have a theory as to its cause: I suspect this exhaustion occurs when I’m letting go of something, even though I’m not sure what it is yet. Right now I’m overly aware of the cracks in everything, and I can’t see the light they’re letting in. Many days I feel a tightness in my chest and tears pricking my eyes and a general sense of sorrow that is, for now, as powerful as it is inarticulate.
But the children have questions, and the work phone is ringing, and the laundry needs to be done.
What’s my choice, but to get up, to keep going, to begin again?
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