I am in a very weird place at the moment. The simplest explanation is that I am just exhausted; physically, mentally, spiritually. I want a nap. About 30 hours should do it, I think. HAHA. Yeah. Anyway, there’s that. I am tired and overwhelmed and let’s face it, I am probably not the world’s greatest friend to begin with, but when I am tired and overly hurt-y about everything, I am an even worse friend. I retreat, and then I wonder why I am wallowing all by my lonesome. Lather, rinse, repeat. It’s delightful, except not really.
Fortunately I have a small group of folks who always poke into my bubble of burnout and remind me that they’re around and I’m okay. I’ve noticed that all of these people are non-local, though, which is possibly because of my Pavlovian response to email/texting even when I am rarely leaving the house or answering the phone, or maybe because I am easier to deal with from far away and in small doses. (I suspect the latter.) Locally, I don’t see a lot of folks when I’m struggling, which is surprisingly easy to do when you work from home.
This week I met a friend for coffee, though, because she was about to leave town for a bit, and blowing her off would’ve meant not seeing her for quite a while. Plus, she was recently diagnosed with cancer, and what sort of asshole would I be if I was all, Yeah, I know you’ve got this whole cancer thing going on, but I’m too busy despairing over the lint in my navel to see you? (Answer: The extremely asshole-ish kind of asshole.)
So we met up for coffee. As is often the case, once I get myself out of the house and into the company of someone I love, I feel better. Of course. (Not that it helps me to remember that, the next time. I am apparently a very slow learner.) This friend of mine is larger than life—always a ready smile, always a great story to tell, always ready to take on whatever’s next. It is next to impossible not to feel energized in her presence. My inability to cope with smaller problems in light of the way she’s take-no-prisoners-ing her way through this health crisis would be embarrassing if she was not also so very gracious and kind in response to my half-answers and attempts to pretend I’m doing better than I am.
It was just plain nice to see her, is what I’m saying.
About halfway through our coffee she said, “Oh! I brought something for you!” And she took out a large ring and pressed it into my hands. “We have a tradition in our family, when loved ones part,” she said. She went on to explain that by leaving a ring behind, or sending the leaving person off with a ring, it would maintain a connection even from a distance.
“Plus,” she continued, “you’re going to wear this while I’m gone and put all of your nice, clean, no-cancer energy into it for me. Then when you give it back it’s a healing thing.”
I slipped the ring onto my finger and admired it, while she explained that it had been her original wedding ring (“What a hippie I used to be,” she added). I feebly protested that she should have her daughter keep it for her this week, but she waved her hand and said no, it was my turn to do this for her. I agreed, of course.
It looks to me like a dove flying through stormy skies, over water; difficult conditions, poor visibility, and nowhere to land. I think that must be exhausting, too, except that a bird can do something I’ve yet to master: it can open its wings and—by being still—continue to stay aloft.
So I’m wearing it this week, while my friend spreads her wings out of town, and I am supposed to be magically filling the ring with good juju. I feel somewhat ill-equipped to do that, but then I find myself mesmerized by every swirl, every crack, every imperfection that still, somehow, perfectly depicts flight… and I think that maybe, just trusting I can keep going may be enough, right now.
Happy Love Thursday, everyone. (And to the ring’s owner: Have a wonderful trip, my friend. Thank you for your faith in me.)