The Writing the Risky Personal Essay class I’m taking with Grub Street in Boston is wonderful. I’ve been learning how to write scenes, use verb tense to create narrative flow in a story, tell a hard story unflinchingly, and so much more. The only problem is that with my commute into Boston and back every Tuesday, plus class time, I lose a quarter of my writing time doing it. I’m brainstorming how to create more writing time in my week without becoming a derelict parent or giving up my fitness efforts or home management duties. So far my only ideas involve getting a whole lot less sleep. Man, I love sleep.
After many years of depression, I feel myself coming out of it. One of the telltale signs is I find myself having to make choices about how I can maximize my limited free time. Do I practice the songs I need to learn for Threshold choir? Do I work on my blog or next essay writing assignment? Do I do some journaling in preparation for this week’s counseling session? Do I go for a run or take a fitness class? Do I work on the enormous alpaca wrap I’m knitting for someone’s upcoming birthday? Do I make time to connect with a friend? The days of walking around as a numb shell of a person without a sense of engagement in anything are over. This is a welcome change, and an uncomfortable one. I can’t remember if I ever learned how to prioritize my passions and make time for all of them simultaneously, or if I always just gave up the activities I loved in favor of assignments from someone I was trying to please. Whether it’s a skill I’ve forgotten, or a new one, I am practicing how to press in and do something I love when the only person who’ll be disappointed if I don’t do it is me. This feels risky. It is uncomfortably selfish to take time for myself to do whatever I want, to insist on that time each week, to pay others to care for and entertain my family while I do so. Being a beginner at so many things means that I often don’t have anything to show for my efforts. I fail a lot. Everything is much slower than I expected. Somehow, this is good news. Slow, uncomfortable, selfish, full of small failures: these are the hallmarks of the life I’ve been fighting for, the life I’ve risked everything to try to live.