MY DAEMONS

I’m up early, as usual.

It’s been rough of late.

Turning back the clocks this year has simply meant that I’m often up at four rather than five o’clock. This is a crummy new development and I’m still figuring out how to best live with it until I’ve reset my circadian dial.

Not long after the return to Eastern Standard Time and the darkness it envelops us in, my working life slipped into fast forward with new contracts coming in before old ones had reached their endings, and I’ve felt a little bit like I’m drowning (marinating?) in fluctuating stress hormones ever since.

At four in the morning
Tree at four in the morning (Photo: mine)

These passages are always anxiogenic.

I know this, and am frustrated with myself, because no matter how many such cycles just like this one my work puts me through, I don’t seem to get much better at warding off the waves that upset the balance in my life.

The moment I realized that I would only be able to manage all of the work (by manage, I mean do it well enough and with joy!) if I cut back on seeing my grandchildren and friends and suspended my writing, I began to feel a weight on my chest and a whispering sadness.

Time, lately, has been like a box that encloses me (or maybe this image comes to mind because, as the amount of online Christmas shopping I’ve been doing has increased, I’ve been piling up those brown shipping boxes).

It has also felt like a greased rope that’s slipping through my hands. It has felt like my oppressor.

This is both fact and figment.

I’m preoccupied with good reason. There aren’t really enough hours in the day. The balance is too precarious.

And yet, my students have been wonderful; my husband has been cleaning up a storm at home; my son Christian has been cooking up delights while his brothers have been the bringers of only good tidings and kindness; my grandchildren and friends have been understanding. And this teaching wave will crest on December 23rd.

Dusk in winter. Yesterday.- photo: mine

So: I’m not one iota less grateful for all of it, just woefully inadequate to the task of applying all of the wisdom gained from life experience, my yoga practice, and from being loved by good, good people.

 

I’m a slow learner indeed. Part of the problem—a very big part, I’ve come to realize—has been that making the adjustments to teach three new groups that all have very different needs, and balancing the seven others, has taken all of the time that I would otherwise devote to writing.

Writing—this thing that I’m doing right now—seems to have become necessary. I don’t know at what moment this became a fact, but there it is.

Early dawn under the maple-photo: mine
Early dawn under the maple-photo: mine

Writing is my daemon. Being separated from it causes me distress that only increases as the days pass. Being able to return to it this week, finally, has helped me to feel both relief and a kind of hopefulness.

Strange. The library blogs I was finally able to write this past week (in English and then in French) were about the recent, merciless unmasking of Italian novelist Elena Ferrante.

It was a new experience for me to write about an author whose work I haven’t even yet read, but something about the story of this woman being dragged against her will into the media spotlight last October 2nd really got to me.

The vast majority of the reaction pieces to Ferrante’s aggressive “outing” that I read were by women writers with whom I couldn’t help but feel a kinship. There’s the ominous scent of something regressive in the air these days and we are picking it up.

But I think that I connected to Ferrante’s fate for more personal reasons as well, because everything indicates that her ability to create and write are contingent upon her ability to walk the tightrope between fact and fiction that she believes is only possible for her in anonymity—that space that allows her to hide in plain sight.

She has been stripped of the conditions necessary to the practice of her art.

Winter sky at dusk. photo: mine
Winter sky at dusk.
photo: mine

It isn’t very Zen to state that there are elements upon which my happiness depends, but today, and every day previous, this has been so.

My existence as a living being is nurtured, like tree roots, by my connections to all of the people I love and care about—these are roots I want to continue to grow till they connect with the vastest possible network—and by those that I create through my work and my writing.

"Our winter sky at night, a sight to behold." -photo by Christian Daoust
“Our winter sky at night, a sight to behold.”
-photo by Christian Daoust

 

 

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