The Ending of an Ordinary Day (46)

umbrellaandscarf

I’m engrossed in preparing for one of my classes. I sit for hours with my laptop making choices again and again about how to bring my course over into this new online learning system. Each time I need to make a small decision, I have to try to figure out how it works, explore the possibilities of the software first, then choose what seems best. Nothing is simple. But I have given up lamenting being forced to switch over. Because I am inside it now, fully engaged, no longer frustrated by the limitations of the software, only fascinated by the process, the details, the decisions. All day while I work the rain comes, steady and sweet. The birds are loud outside the window. Now and then I remember to stop to listen, look up, savor their boisterousness. In the early afternoon, I hear a soft skrittery sound. A hummingbird is sitting on the open louvers. She is out of the rain. I talk to her, touched and honored. I hope the warm air from the heater wafts over her perch. At one point I realize how good it feels to be immersed in my work like this. But I want to go for a walk, see how full the creek bed is. In the not quite dusk, I get a glimpse of the mountains when the clouds part, and I know I’ll regret it if I don’t get out there. I tear myself away from my laptop, pull my wild fuzzy magenta scarf over my head. I take my lime green umbrella, lock the door behind me. I refuse to bring my flashlight because I want my pockets free. The umbrella feels like enough of an encumbrance. Later I realize I didn’t even bring my key, but I don’t care. I stand beside the creek, the clean air cold on my face, and watch the water move. I startle a cottontail. I walk to the foot bridge where the falling water gets loud, then away again, the frogs and the wide moving water always beside me. I dream of snow falling on our mountains as I walk. It’s dark when I get back, and the light in the living room makes my home look warm and inviting. I dig out the spare key, glance at the courtyard in the light from the three paper solar lanterns in a row along the shed. Everything is glistening in the wet dark. I feel lucky and grateful for my home, for knowing I get to be warm and dry, get to have a good dinner. Before I go inside, I pick two handfuls of mustard greens for my soup. I even have a good book waiting for my Friday night. It feels like the ending of an ordinary day in an extraordinary way. Thank you.

Too Tired (44)

I have a second cup of green tea and toasted rice steeping beside the open kitchen window. After I drank the first cup I found myself nodding off reading. I’m so exhausted I almost can’t function, can’t feel quite like myself, a dull blankness lying over me in layers. How can I let myself become so depleted for work? Can’t I learn to keep better boundaries, check in less often, know when to go to sleep? But when I’m caught up in it, the train holds me rushing down the tracks, the whoosh of air loud in my ears. It doesn’t feel like I have a choice. It feels like all I can do is keep moving through it, swaying car to swaying car. Answer the next question, grade the next submission, remember to cook dinner, feed the cats, field the next three questions waiting after I eat. I call it a night, too tired to wash the dishes waiting in the kitchen sink. While I am in it, the pace sustains me. I wake up early after little sleep, answer more questions from bed. But once the pressure slackens, the train slowing on the tracks, the exhaustion weighs me down, presses me against the earth. Silly mortal. Older mortal now, too. Yesterday afternoon I almost couldn’t stand. Today I think I could fall asleep while I write, but I keep the pen moving across the page. I am in the shade under the umbrella. A house finch calls from the neighbor’s tree. I’d been so eager for this lightening of my load. But I’m too tired to feel it, pressed down as I am by exhaustion, this body heavy like stone. Instead I look forward to being replenished, to feeling lighter, my body not dead weight I wrestle to keep upright, but easy companion, heart lifting again as hearts are meant to do.