Warning: This post will meander through many topics, but all are loosely related.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about time. And energy. And the best use of both.
These topics first came up when considering my writing schedule. In the past several months, I haven’t used my writing time to keep my blog updated. That time also didn’t see new entries in my journal, revisions on my WIP, or many letters sent to family and friends. Very little work as a writer was completed in all the hours of writing and editing time I had in my schedule.
Part of that is political fatigue. Since November 9, 2016, the political divides have widened. People seem more willing to use violence against those who disagree with them. At a time when we need reasoned, mature debates and a willingness to compromise, we are becoming more entrenched in our own echo chambers.
The unrest, frustration, and ongoing ugliness have drained my emotional reserves. I no longer feel safe in my home, which I haven’t experienced in decades. I haven’t exercised or eaten healthy foods. That lack of self-care makes it harder to find the energy to create. Instead of writing, I spend too much time either obsessing over the latest political revelations on social media or watching mindless fluff on TV to escape the doldrums created by too much time on social media. It’s a vicious cycle.
How should I spend my time? I care passionately about many issues, and I feel that I should be more engaged in them at this moment. And yet, I rarely talk about my views on these issues with my parents and siblings because I assume their views are different from mine. We all avoid the hard topics because we don’t think we can listen respectfully while disagreeing. We’re a case study of what’s wrong in American politics now.
This morning brings news that a gunman attacked a baseball team composed of Republican Congressional leaders and their staffs. Lots of political leaders will say we shouldn’t politicize a tragedy, which means Americans never have a meaningful talk about gun control. Other topics we can’t seem to discuss include racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and religious intolerance.
Americans have mastered the art of avoiding difficult discussions. We spend our time and energy following the latest celebrity diet trends, arguing about so-called reality TV shows, and debating the merits of this movie or album versus that one.
We either can’t or won’t use our time and energy to deal with the shit that needs to be addressed. Perhaps Americans, like my family, are too afraid of what we’ll learn about ourselves and our loved ones if we discuss the hard stuff. Or maybe we are all just too immature to deal with matters of substance.
I’m not sure how to fix our national malaise, but I think I know how to fix my own. Writing this blog post is a first step. I commit myself to writing 500 words tomorrow. One step at a time to get myself back into a writing groove.
I also will be gentler with myself. The past few months have shown me a side of our country that I didn’t want to acknowledge. Feeling down and frustrated about that is natural. That my feelings disrupted my writing schedule is just a part of life. The answer isn’t to continue wallowing in despair or to beat myself up because I slacked off as a writer.
But it’s time to channel my fears, frustrations, and outrage to fuel new writing.