How are you doing? I am both fine and struggling.
The fine: I am going to work, getting my prep work done, making good connections with students, bringing them new information and teaching them how to read critically and how to write clearly. I'm making progress on my writing projects. I am still learning how to live whatever illness I have, and some days are really difficult physically, but I am taking care of myself, keeping myself moving.
The struggling: I don't half know how to write this part. I am negotiating the line between keeping track of what my government is doing (and objecting to most of it) and protecting my mental health. Just lately I've been feeling such dread. I could write a list here of the things that have made me feel worse and worse about what our country is doing--the pain and human suffering that it is causing--but that list would get too long. It's overwhelming, and it makes me feel panicky sometimes, other times like I'm going to throw up.
One of the worst parts, for me, something that broke me a little, was Charlottesville: white supremacists forcing their way onto a college campus, taking to the streets and killing a young woman and beating up a young man and shooting at people, spewing their hate all over the place. Their ideology feels like a rejection of everything I believe, undoing all the things I have spent my life doing.
And then Hurricane Harvey. And then DACA. And another hurricane on the way. Fires in the Pacific Northwest, fires in Southern California. People I know and love all being affected by these. Heartbreak after heartbreak.
In the backdrop there is the daily blanket of sadness over our household because our nest is empty now. Our son's moving to college has brought so much pride, and excitement about the future he is building for himself. But I also just plain miss him a lot. Like, a whole lot.
On Thursday morning of this week, I was getting ready for school and I couldn't get this one song out of my head. I've heard it in a commercial recently... but the unsatisfying thing about the commercial is that it edits out one of my favorite parts, where the background singers come to the fore and sing I'M TAKING, I'M TAKING, and DON'T YOU DO IT, DON'T YOU DO IT.
That part--the background singers making themselves heard--has always struck me as odd, but also awesome, somehow bold and unapologetic. So I went online, cued up the song, and started playing it.
All of a sudden, I had to hear it LOUD. And sing along. And dance around the kitchen. And turn it up LOUDER.
I had a sensation I haven't felt in a while. It took me a second to recognize it: Joy. Just plain joy.
After the song was over, I started to wonder: where did this come from? Am I relieved about surviving a demanding week at school? Am I celebrating surviving the horribleness? I had so many questions.
But I stopped myself and just noticed: it's still here, still available. Joy is possible. Relish it when it comes. Just dance.
I hope you feel joy today.
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