Field Notes, vol 16
I’ve been avoiding you. At first, it was because of physical health challenges, but then it became more about shame. I have these grand visions for what my life could look like; full of thoughtfulness and learning and discussions with clever, loving friends. Full of poetry and novels and curiosities of nonfiction and telling everyone about the marvelous new bookish treasures I’ve stumbled across. Full of walks, on which I’d understand more and more of the natural world around me, and the scent of baking, and teaching Thistle new tricks, and endless pots of soup. Full of beautiful photographs, knitting projects, a cosily decorated apartment. Even the occasional adventure. And of course I want to share all of this beauty and good fortune and interest here.
But the truth is, I am disabled. There are days when lifting a mug of tea to my lips is almost more than I can bear. There are days when I have to decide whether to cook a meal or do the dishes, because I don’t have the energy for both, and I daren’t bake scones and contribute to the sink clutter. There are days when I get Thistle out for her walks because I have to, bribing myself with audiobooks to get through it. And somehow these days can turn into weeks, and a month has flown by, and I have not much to show for it, which breaks my heart. I thought I’d made my peace with this, with the limitations bad health imposes. But I’ve had to learn that lesson again this past month, as the blank slate and hopefulness that a move brings morphed into a desperate attempt to keep my head above the water, wondering why I felt so exhausted and couldn’t seem to quite get out of the flare up cycle.
Luckily, as December arrived, I began to put into place new routines, less ambitious than before, that are allowing me to continue living alone. Joy has snuck back in, exhaustion is less, and I’m once again gentle with myself, instead of wondering why I can’t fit more in to the seemingly endless hours of my days. My currency is not time but energy, which is anything but endless. I can have a little bit of everything I’ve already mentioned but the active moments must be buffered with much downtime. There is no use in lamenting this, or castigating myself for not being able to do more. Instead, I am just grateful that I am bookish, and have always been so, as books easily expand to fill that down time. And as always, I’ve decided this blog and book blogging in general is precious enough to use some of that energy on. So I’ll be headed back for the limited schedule I laid out in my last return, but this time I’ll be writing in the afternoons that always feel ripe with potential, instead of waiting until evening when I’m already counting the hours until bedtime. I’ve been wanting to return to blogging for the past fortnight, but I worried that the passing glances I’m able to manage about the books I’m reading aren’t good enough, that as they deserve so much more, it would be better if I said nothing. But that’s what I’ve done for so much of the past few years, and it’s not better, for me at least. So today I just sat down and started writing, as the only way to return to blogging is to in fact click the ‘add new post’ link!
As I struggled to pull myself out of the malaise that ended November for me, books have been my constant companions. I’m almost done with Bujold’s Vorkosigan saga, and each book manages to be both a comfort and a challenge at once. I love her for that. I’ve been rereading too, of course; the ultimate comfort. But I’ve also been craving novels featuring smart, bookish heroines facing challenges of their own, or at least engaged in trying to sort out what life is about. These women, both the characters and the authors who write them, are my tribe, and I am happy to have so much excellent companionship. Their stories helped me find my way back to myself.
I shall tell you more about them soon, but for now I’m curious: which books do you turn to when you’re feeling lost? Are there particular authors you turn to or genres or just specific books that have not only touched your soul but somehow told you more about how to live?