I am apparently really bad at updating on any sort of regular schedule. Does this make the occasional random post special or more just a “God, he finally got his shit together again” sort of situation? At any rate, I am still among the living, even if my life has been almost one trash fire after another. I’m currently sitting on the couch, icing my partially ruptured plantar fascia and feeling what my therapist might call proud, though I won’t go that far, to have just graduated from physical therapy for my last malady. And honestly, while my body and my brain have been doing just about everything they can to try and wear me down to nothing, it hasn’t succeeded, and that’s probably worth feeling proud (shhhh) about too. I’m not going to list off all of the health shit that I’ve been dealing with in the past year because I don’t want to turn this into a total bummer of a post, but I’m actually doing pretty well right now. Sure, life isn’t perfect and my left foot is busted and while I just graduated PT for my back I’ll soon be starting over for that, I’m still here. You hear that universe? I’m still fucking here! And that’s certainly not nothing.
It was recently the two year anniversary of a friend’s suicide, and I have been thinking a lot about my life and the course it has taken over the almost 37 years (I know! WTF?! Who ever thought that would happen?!) that I’ve been on this planet and how much pain has been involved in surviving. When I was in the hospital at the end of 2018, the main reason I agreed that it was time to go was because I didn’t want to be a bomb that went off in our community, which is what it felt like when my friend died. I didn’t want to cause my partner that kind of pain, or my family, both blood and chosen. And so I spent 6 weeks at McLean and during that time I learned a few things about myself. One was that life needs connections with other people who share lived experiences and encourage you to challenge yourself and you encourage them to challenge themselves. I’ve been doing a lot of work lately around cultivating who it is that I want to spend my time with and how I want to spend my time and I think a lot of that stems back to this. Which seems really simple and obvious now that I’m thinking about it, but it wasn’t at the time and hasn’t been in the past. Connections with people that you make and keep simply because people are there and willing to spend time with you isn’t good enough. Life needs more than that.
Another was that I need to do things that bring me joy! It’s good to go to therapy and doctor’s appointments to take care of my health, but I need to find things that I look forward to! Again, this sounds so incredibly simple, but I’ve spent so long spending my time going from one appointment, one therapy session, one group to the next that I forgot that I need more in my life. People, hobbies, getting out on my bicycle and riding until I’m exhausted and grinning from endorphins while my legs feel like jelly climbing the basement stairs to my apartment. I started knitting again, abandoning a project that I felt like I “should” finish because I’d spent money on the yarn and had put time into but that wasn’t bringing me joy. I made my friends’ newborn a baby hat with ears on it, I knit myself an infinity scarf, I started and am close to finishing a sweater for said niece even if it is several months late for a Christmas gift. I started reading again and discovered why I’ve always loved being curled up with a book that I am eager to devour! I rode my bike for the 40+ mile route during Hub on Wheels, an organized bike trip that follows the Emerald Necklace in Boston, which I love because it takes me to many different parts of the city that I never see otherwise and is full of people who are doing something they love doing because they love doing it. It’s not a race, there are no prizes for participating. It’s just a fun way to spend a day outdoors doing something I love that makes me feel strong and capable and proud (there’s that word again) in what I am physically able to do. I went back to my chorus and performed in the 2019 winter concert. I pushed myself to go back to Tai Chi.
I think the other major things I re-learned was that I need to push myself. I need to encourage myself to change, to grow, to learn. I need to challenge myself in ways that let me see growth. And whether this is the people I keep around me, or the things I engage in, I need do so regularly because when I stop, things grow stagnant, and this causes so many problems that then become seemingly insurmountable. One of the things that I started a couple years ago and have continued is taking trips to Virginia one to two times a year to go camping with a great group of guys, some of who I met online back in my late teens, which has been one of the most affirming things that I do for myself these days. I took the train down in October and spent a long weekend in the woods of West Virginia camping, the sound of the river that was maybe 20 feet from my campsite lulling me to sleep every night. The weather was great, even if it did get down to 28 early one morning, but it was beautiful and quiet and away from the bustle of the city and I loved every minute of it. There’s an upcoming trip to Virginia Beach in June and I have literally been counting down the days until then to pull myself through between now and then because sitting around a campfire with people I love and spending time with my chosen family means so much and I’m so glad that I’m in a place where I know this and am able to enjoy it.
So yeah, I guess if I have one thing to take from all of this past year is to live life as best I can, as cliched as that may sound. Find the good moments in all of the bullshit and live for those, and if you can’t find the good moments in a particular point in time, I need to remember that there will be good moments in the future and I just need to take life one step at a time until I get there.