As I recall, before the Great Pandemic of 2020, I used to be able to focus on a task. I was capable of doing the laundry, shopping for food, leading my Writing Group and planning writing exercises, cooking, and generally staying with a task until it was completed. But I have been overcome by an insidious fog which traps me in an anxiety loop with occasional bursts of determination that fizzle out in minutes. I now own more pairs of shoes than I ever have had in my life. Walking shoes, orthopedic shoes, slippers, sandals, athletic shoes. Since the pandemic hit I have purchased more shoes than I could ever wear out.
Symbolic of a longing to get out and about again, the shoes guilt me every time I open my closet. It hasn't helped that I am plagued by a troublesome achilles tendon on one foot and two knees that have almost no cartilege to cushion them. Yes, I'm doing all the things one is supposed to do about that. But I find overcoming the pain to do the exercise and walking prescribed is so damn hard.
I have become oppositional-defiant within myself. My spirit is in constant conflict with my body. I think this is an age-old problem, and I mean that in every sense you can make of it. "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak...." We all know that one.
I long for a tonic to take me out of this morass, energy to finish the laundry and plan the meals, strength to walk the steps, pedal the exercycle, make the bed every morning. Is it just that I am aging? This is not the me I expected to find in this time and place.
It's easy to blame one's own inabilities on external factors. But I really do think that we are living in an entirely different world. I see my grandkids hurrying to catch up because they missed so much during that interminable year of lock-down and Zoom schooling, and I see their parents almost frantic to support whatever it is the kids need to make that happen. Social connections have become twice as important. No opportunity should be missed because, what? We might have to be locked in isolation again at any time? We are hoarding connections as if it were possible to do so.
I know that if I stopped watching the news for hours every day I would have more energy to finish my laundry, to organize my closets, to make plans that allow me to spend time writing. But I don't stop. I watch every day, for far too long. I keep looking for a shred of hope, some light in the darkness of political chicanery, some evidence that there will be adults in the room with the ability to make wise decisions. And I will not find it there. I know that.
I have made my confession. And now I will drink a cup of chestnut tea, move the laundry from the washer to the dryer, and find a little peace. And breathe. I will remember to breathe.