Saturday, September 10, 2011

31: Life


With great relief I can now safely say I'm through the worst of my burnout.

I hope.

In any case, I have been taking small steps daily towards a "normal" life. Normal for me, anyway. One of those steps being that I'm writing again. And I don't know if it seems counterproductive to recover from burnout by setting myself the goal of writing a blog post a day for a month, but even if it is I'm doing it. When I think about it, though, it's probably going to be helpful to have time set aside for writing, so that all other time can be spent not writing. If my burnout could have been attributed to one single cause, it would have been my failure to allocate time and effort to each section of my life that was in proportion to its importance.

So, I decided, in these 31 days before I turn 31, I will write. I made a list of things that are important to me, people and causes and objects and ideas, and I'll try to pick one a day to write about. If I get to October 11 having written all 31 entries, I think I'll have much greater clarity about what I've chosen to make the big things in my life. And if I don't, I'll have stuff to process anyway, through entries with titles like "Why Do I Keep Overcommitting?"

But now, at the beginning of this exercise where the outlook is bright, I'll leave you with this picture, which is what often comes to mind when I think about life.


Not the foot, specifically, but the little person who now walks (also hops, dances, bounces, gallops, chugs and shuffles) on it and its left counterpart. My nephew was three months and a week when this picture was taken, and already so wriggly that the reason my hand is in the shot was for foot-steadying purposes, not because I was trying to replicate some baby lotion commercial.

Today, he is four years and one day old. (It seems I inherited my father's penchant for precision.) He is intelligent and inquisitive and eloquent and all kinds of wonderful. And he is still what comes to mind when I think about life. Because he is so up-to-the-brim-and-over full of life; because his existence reminds me that mine has a purpose. Because after so many years spent surrounded by cultural and institutional assumptions that productivity equalled acceptance equalled worth, in the midst of trying to shake off those assumptions yet feeling defeated by their prevalence, I was reminded through an unabashedly joyful, unashamedly dependent, utterly vulnerable yet unstintingly loved little boy that life wasn't meant to be lived that way. All those words that I've used to describe my nephew, they're just things. And all those things we use to define ourselves as adults? Also just things. I already adored this boy before he even appeared to the world. I didn't know whether he would someday be able to return my verbal volleys (yes) or if he'd ever break our hearts with his behaviour (I hope not). But regardless of what the answers to each of those unknowns was or will be, the love is there simply because he is.

So, to have arrived at a point where I see every human being as valuable intrinsically, regardless of ability, appearance or performance; to know that we are loved far beyond what we deserve or can understand; to want to live every moment as an expression of gratitude and reciprocation of that love... to me, that's life.

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