So, that’s that. The project is finished and now I get my life back. There are a few outstanding things to take care of, but other than those, we are good to go. And my regular life and regular schedule can resume.
It’s been a huge challenge, putting massive demands on my head and my body. It’s going to take me days, if not weeks, to get back to equilibrium again, but it will happen. Sleep will happen. Relaxation will happen. Good food and rest will happen. I did good work over the past months, and now it’s time to sit back and replace the resources I depleted.
And replace them, I will. With long, deep breaths that take in all that life has to offer around me. The scents of the autumn rains starting early… the sounds of swollen, dangerous rivers roaring past, through, over vulnerable, immobilized towns… the odor of pungent rot on a forest floor going through its cycles of death and revitalization… the sight of the finished project on the computer screen in front of me, actually live and moving and making its presence felt in the world beyond my desk… It’s all part of it. All wonderful and terrible and joyful and horrendous and as invigorating now as it was excruciating then.
My head is aching, and I’m still dizzy and feeling sick to my stomach. Breakfast as usual didn’t calm things down, nor did second breakfast. I’m a little more stable than I was at 6 a.m., but I have a ways to go before I build back up.
But build back up, I shall. I know my nervous system is pretty fried. I’m strung out, and I need to get back to rest-and-digest, out of that fight-flight cycle that’s been dominating my life, lately. I need to take in, not just spend and expend and go-go-go. I need to feed myself again, after starving myself for weeks and months. I need to feel something again, not just think-think-think.
And so I shall. And so I do.
See, here’s the thing… All the running is very well and good, but so much of it is just plain anxiety – not knowing, not being sure, not certain, being afraid of getting it wrong, being afraid of being penalized for getting it wrong, not feeling any leeway to screw up and live to see another day, not feeling like “I can do this”… not feeling up to the job at hand… not feeling up to much of anything. Tired, tired, and more tired. Because I’m running.
And half the time I don’t even realize it.
An amazing thing happens, though, when I realize this. When I am present and aware that this is what is going on with me, it ceases to have a hold on me. And I can choose how I want to handle things. I can choose how I want to react to it — get away from the fear, get away from the anxiety, and just settle in to take care of the things that are making me anxious and fearful.
And get some perspective. Open my mind, open my heart. Sit and listen. Spend some time talking to people I never get the chance to talk to. Spend some time reading the words of writers I used to love, who were lost to me for a number of years after my last TBI, because I couldn’t handle reading. No I can read again. And I find myself coming back to the words of writers I used to love — getting inside access to the spirit that moves them, the spirit that moves us all…
That spirit, that heart, those words… they feed me. And it is good.
Even when things were crazy and busy and frantic, they were good. It’s not a bad idea for me to push myself, now and then, and learn from it. I’ve learned a lot, namely, that I can push myself and I won’t fall apart. I’ve held myself back a lot, over the course of my life, thinking that I couldn’t handle things, when I never gave myself a chance. Things are even more challenging now, because I’ve got this brain stuff going on. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to let life pass me by, because of what I think I can or cannot do. If I try something — pour myself into it with all my might, and I fall flat on my face — or worse, on my head — then I learn. I would rather test my limits and take my chances, than only play it safe.
Granted, it’s no good to put myself in harm’s way. That will never do. But the real limits of what is and is not possible for me, aren’t always true in my mind. It’s a skewed up, screwed up hodge-podge of conceptions I have about myself and my life, and while I do acknowledge I have issues and areas I need to watch out for, the fact remains that there are also areas I am too careful about, and when I push the limits of those areas, I learn a thing or two.
Some of the things I learned are that dogged fatigue messes with my mind and memory and equilibrium like few other things do. But I also learned that — for a time — I can prevail and draw on reserves I don’t normally draw on. I also learned how dangerous it is to drive when I am that tired. I didn’t wreck, but I got lucky. I also realized, from reading the writings of people from almost 100 years ago, that people have been pushing the envelope of human experience for an awful long time. They get hurt, they get banged up, they get injured, they get concussions. They have all sorts of aches and pains, migraines and arthritis and dizziness, and more. And yet they keep going. They have always kept going. And some people have done a better job of taking their pains and traumas in stride, than others.
Whatever we do, however we do it, that’s life. We go through terrible times, and we suffer. We ache and we thrill and we keep finding out where the sharp edges of life are jutting out to snag us as we pass. We bleed and we vomit and we collapse from exhaustion. But we go on. And in the end, sometimes it does a body good to push it that far. When we push too far, we find out. For sure, we find out.
The thing is, as hard as we push ourselves, we need to allow in the goodness that life has to offer. I think that may be the biggest difference between how we are now and how we used to be, 100 years ago. Now, we are never, ever satisfied. There is always something else we need, something else we desire, something else we cannot live without. And we push ourselves without ceasing, ignoring the circadian needs of our bodies and souls, never stopping to appreciate the good that comes to us, always thinking that the good we have is simply not enough. It is never enough for some of us. And we put all sorts of conditions on our happiness, making our innermost selves eager victims of our own appetites.
Things come, things go. And we force ourselves to suffer, against all good sense and sensibility.
But I guess that’s just life.
But now, it’s time to sleep. Work will be waiting for me when I get up again. But for now, I need to rest. Relax. I may read, too. But mainly, I’ll sleep.