fending demons

This is not a post about depression. It is a post about a regular old grey November day, when all your sweaters are already tiresome, when you’ve been counting down to the holidays too long for it to be fun anymore, when the short week ahead looms and mocks with a tedium of to-dos. When you know there is nothing at all to act so weary about, but you pull the covers back over your head anyway.

On this kind of day you pull on one of those sweaters and sit with your peanut-butter-banana english muffin, puzzling. What has made you so tired? Why do you want to do your homework so half-assed? When did you lose the inspiration to keep a tidy bedroom? You start to think that you are a lazy and entitled person. You wish you were one of those energetic, determined people who get interviewed in magazines about their productivity. Your english muffin drips peanut butter and your spirit continues to droop.

You put your peanut-buttered plate in the dishwasher and it occurs to you that that wasn’t so hard. You are also reminded that, in theory at least, you care about yourself. You rummage for cinnamon to put in your coffee. The day begins to feel warm. You make a resolution, despite the protests of a sluggish mind and slow feet.

This is a day you will light a candle anyway, do your hair up anyway, make your bed anyway. You are still tired,you think you might watch Gilmore Girls or scroll through Pinterest, but you remember the sour envy settling in your gut when you retreated to these this week. Self-care means something different today. You imagine that you are fueled by the candle-smell of orange-clove and the taste of cinnamon coffee, and your space begins to transform.

As you put things in their places they start to feel more like your things and less like little irritating monsters encroaching on your space. As you tug the covers into place you remember how grateful you are for this bed. As you order the semester’s books you realize that reading them has been quite an accomplishment. As you open the blinds the world gets a little bigger than your own musty mind, which is all you were really hoping for.

There are gentle ways to kick yourself in the pants. There are lighthearted resistances to grumpy discontent. To daily wpid-img_20141116_150008954.jpgovercome stagnation and decay is as important work as any other project or revolution. It is the stuff of life. It is to love with stubbornness what is already here. Perhaps there is no “why” you stopped cleaning your room or liking school. Perhaps it is only that things undone become thoughtlessness overindulged, breeding a gripping acedia. Perhaps it is that care for every small thing strikes a cheerful little blow at that particular demon, which shows itself less a smothering nightmare and more a tiny sad bully. A patch of sun is eking through the clouds, so you straighten your shoes in a row and sit down not to complain about homework. A Master’s degree – and a life – is a grand collection of details such as these.

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