Patience in Time

I am not hating this somewhat break from our usual lives. I’m sure that won’t last, but this past weekend I had an experience that I haven’t felt in over a decade.

A very cute kitty laying on a bed with her head against the pillow and the comforter tucked in over her body. She knows how to do life right.

In my twenties, I had a substance abuse problem. I don’t call it an addiction, because I didn’t have that physical dependency that people who use that word describe. Drugs and alcohol were how I got in my own way to avoid all the things and feelings I was so scared of. What those fears were (and are) are for therapy, not blogposts, and this blogpost isn’t about the substance abuse, but what happened when I got sober.

I’m not going to describe this right. I’ve written and rewritten and thrown so many words away trying to capture the feeling of possibility after I got sober. But it’s not possibility like the sky opening up and the heavens singing down glory, lighting the way to your new, sober life. It’s possibility because an obstacle is clear. Time is clear. Time I used to spend drunk or high and then hungover. But there’s a cutting edge to it. It’s not just about the time I now have, but the clarity of all the time I lost and this persistent, aching feeling of being always behind. Behind on career, goals, life. Irretrievably behind if I don’t fucking rush to catch up.

And that’s what I’ve been doing for a decade plus. Trying to catch up. Trying to undo the damage I did to my life, my possibility. And for me, that means rushing. From one thing to the next. From activity to activity. Every minute stuffed beyond what it can handle. Guilt and shame riding shotgun down a dusty road I’m drag racing against no one.

I’m working on it. I take days off. I go for hikes. I travel. (See also supra re: therapy.)

But it wasn’t until this past weekend, when there was no place to go, nothing to do, and I had reached my limit with Twitter and the news and basically the whole of the internet, that I made my way through what I wanted to do and found myself with day leftover. And not just an hour or so. Like four entire hours before I would even think about going to bed.

And it sucked. And it was fucking wonderful. And I want more of it.

Because I felt like I had my life back. Time had finally decided not to rush me through these years. And I don’t want to let that go.

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Considering Patience

I am not a patient person. Perhaps not the most impatient (although saying that makes my competitive brain wake the fuck up and say “We’ll see about that!”), but I do not like to wait. I suppose people could see this as a result of growing up and living in a Now! Now! Now! culture, where that Now! has become faster and faster to the point that the space between one Now! and the next has essentially disappeared. Sure. That’s part of it, but not all of it. Some of it is just me.

Spring blooms on a morning walk

And now we are here. All of us experiencing varying levels of stay at home and physical distancing and face covering. Going to the grocery store is a marathon of stress management. Packages are taking longer, and when we get them, sit for days, hoping that the pathogens wither and die before we open then. Washing and washing and washing again our hands. We are being forced to slow down, to be patient.

This is difficult for me. I started stay at home before my office and LA itself mandated it. (I read a lot of dystopian novels and am privileged to have a job that already allowed work from home.) Since then, I have been dealing with personal tragedies that have taken up so much space in my life that I haven’t experienced the slowing and stretching of time without an end in sight the way others have. The impact of these tragedies have waned, and now I find myself there, craving this whole thing to end.

I am alert for any signposts that this is working, that we have turned a corner. The curve seems to be flattening as the stay-at-home order extends to mid-May here in LA. I need something to do to distract that craving. Something bound by this crisis, of it and in it.

So, I am going to explore patience. I don’t know what this exploration will entail or how it will manifest. I will simply give it a portion of this slow and stretchy time, and share what I find there. Care to join me?

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