Short note: Tired(s)

An image of a beautiful sunset in Phoenix, Arizona, just before a summer thunderstorm.

[Please donate to the Milwaukee Freedom Fund if you are able]

This is an update more than it is an actual, cohesive blog post.

As far as summers go, this has been one for the books. I don’t need to reinvent the wheel: we have seen the culmination of so much, this year, and the urgency of progress, of dismantling, of interrogation should not be lost on us.

I made myself work this summer; I was genuinely afraid that giving myself a break would mean having to open my mind to suffering, to death, to the enormity of the crises we are undergoing – have been undergoing. And this is not to say that I keep my eyes and ears shut to the world ordinarily. My entire reason for being demands the opposite. But for my own sake, for my health, for my happiness, I have to maintain a certain degree of separation from it all. That separation is what keeps me from falling apart; it allows me to be effective in what I need to do.

So, I worked non-stop, save for an imposed break on some weekends. Summer was summer in its truest form: a hot season, not a vacation. I was able to go see my in-laws in Arizona with all its sky (my first taste of family since the winter), but even there I commandeered the dining table as a workstation. I worked on organizing a conference, wrote my capstone, held a part-time job, started another part-time job, submitted my capstone, joined my school’s diversity, inclusion and equity initiative (a stuttering, floundering entity with good intentions and uncertain goal – not surprisingly), mourned frequently, wrote petitions, appeared on a radio show to my own surprise, et cetera.

A work in progress, at the time this photo was taken.

Somehow, I found the time to start painting again. I put myself in bio-drag, because I just needed a day to paint my own face. I asked my mother-in-law to take photos of me for a poetry competition I found myself winning second-place in. I had some old poems appear in another online poetry magazine. I didn’t write much creatively: but I found it in me to write a ghazal and a rubai, and the acts made me feel closer to the ground into which I was made. I read, and cried.

I had an anxious summer. I found my brain frequently fragmented. I zoned out often. I felt tired more often than not (I have not been this tired since high school, when I just didn’t really sleep much). My body issues acted back up with more ferocity than they had in a while. I can’t stress how disheartening this last part was. I had been doing so well. But my therapist and I came to the realization that it’s likely a consequence of how much has happened lately. In the face of all the unprecedented anxieties, my brain is going back to the precedented anxieties in order to wrest some control over the situation. The evil it knows so well; that I know so well. To come to this conclusion is at once a relief and a grim reality. Where before coming to such epiphanies would mean a way out, a remedy, countering this familiar anxiety necessitates coming to terms with the new anxiety. What I had been spending my whole summer actively avoiding, for fear that it would shatter my brain.

But I am shattered. I am so tired. A part of my brain is in constant mourning. For the friends I haven’t seen in ages, for the wedding I wasn’t able to have, for the unfathomable death that has been allowed to happen this year, for the oppressions we have yet to destroy. There is so much to mourn. And precisely for that reason, there is so much to do.

Compassion: that’s all it boils down to. Taking this tired, holding it close, and feeling the bonds I share with every single person feeling this same tired. Different tireds, maybe. Some tireds worse than others. But tired, all the same.

There is so much to do. I ask that you hold the thought of me close. Lend me some of your tired; I can hold it for a while. Take some of my tired; thank you so much for this relief. Let me be the coolness of your eyes, for a moment. May we be the relief, the light, in someone else’s mind. Thank you.

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