I spent ten minutes looking for the cinnamon in the kitchen. The counters, the shelves. I even checked the refrigerator because finding lost items there seems to be a thing lately. I gave up and sat down to write, only to notice the cinnamon on the edge of the desk.

At least I can start the day with cinnamon in my coffee.

Tuesday mornings are slow. A rest day, so no run. Leonard is waiting for his walk. I wonder if he’ll be just as disappointed as I am now noticing last night’s snow is already gone and the streets are black.

Last night we walked while it was snowing big, fat flakes. We passed three kids rolling snowballs along the sidewalk. They’d already packed two balls big enough to make a 4-foot snowman. Leonard was excitedly pushing his nose under every mound of snow like it was a treasure hunt. I had just finished a weight-lifting class and my body was warm inside my snowsuit. The snowflakes stung my eyes now and then. The night was light. And I was thinking: real life is good. I was looking forward to crawling into bed with a book and some tart cherry and sparkling water. Not as cozy as tea perhaps, but more conducive to a good night’s sleep.

It seems like life is thinning down to just these things now. The sore muscles and the quest for a good night’s sleep. This happens every year at advent. The season makes me feel threadbare and inadequate. I try hard to create the kind of warm, cosy, seasonal atmosphere of candle-lit Scandinavian film sets from the 70s, and the results are amateur. Cheap.

There is a scene in the 60s film version of Genet’s The Balcony: the jury in the mock trial are cardboard cut-outs. I think this haunts me a little because the community is an illusion. Like a child lining up dolls and stuffed animals around a tiny tea set, everyone present is in agreement–and while that part is nice, it’s a lonely setting.

Like most kids, I guess, I used to imagine the toys came to life at night and talked about me. It wasn’t nice. A bit like my mother and my aunts gossiping about one another when the other wasn’t present.

Back in therapy now, my shrink tells me things will come up again. I find it odd, because what’s not “up” almost continually? But I suppose I am blowing the dust off the memories and handling them. I’m not intentional in noticing new things–new textures and crevices in the tiny landscapes–but they are obvious now. Sometimes insistent.

I’m mixing my metaphors.

I finished writing a new play for the students and a colleague asks me why I would do that when I could find a perfectly good script that would work.

I just don’t think I belong in this world sometimes. I feel like a cardboard cutout watching, but looking in the wrong direction, eyes fixed. Try as I might, I just can’t get myself “fleshed out” in the real world with everyone else. I don’t really understand what the judge wants from me.

I find it funny that my shrink refers to a specific work-related event of last year as “the trauma”. I mean, considering my childhood, my mother’s recent death and other serious, personal challenges of the past 2 years, it seems an odd thing to focus on as a trigger. But then yesterday: here we go again. I am looking at this latest bit of contention as a kind of work-in-progress evaluation to see if I have become stronger these past months. If not stronger, then more like a duck.

I slept all of three hours last night and am running on coffee this morning, but yes. I find that a lot more rolls off my back these days – whether that is a result of me growing or me being too broken to care anymore.

I am beginning to consider a third alternative as an explanation: I am finally learning to let go. All these morning meditations and evening shakti mat sessions, isn’t this actually the goal? Am I confusing this faint sense of emotional equanimity with “broken”?

Last week there was an article in the national paper about a woman who retired from television at 42 because she didn’t want people to see her ageing. The next day an older man wrote a lovely little meditation on ageing, referencing so many writers. He paraphrased Knut Hamsun, while keeping Hamsun’s archaic word: egal. I had to look it up.

Hamsun said something like: I find myself surprised by the joys that this advanced age has brought. My mind has never rested in such equilibrium.

I shared the article with E. and his first reaction was to wonder if that word egal implied indifference. It’s an interesting distinction: indifference vs. emotional equilibrium. It’s also a question common in Buddhist discussions I’ve listened to. So it is interesting to approach it again from this perspective.

I think the use of the word here is similar to the use of ambivalence, which seems to be losing its distinct definition, to feel two strong and opposing feelings about something, and is more often used colloquially to mean indifferent. As though a resistance against falling on one side or the other with a sense of righteous passion is a bad thing.

I have spent far too much of my life rushing to judgment. Defending myself from judgment. Most often from a place of insecurity. It hasn’t served me well. I am going to try to give myself permission to deal with a tempered ambivalence and equanimity in my thoughts and in my feelings. I am going to resist the pressure to pick a pre-defined box for my perspective on the things that happen in my life. No more, clicking in place and responding with predetermined and “appropriate” feelings – actions.

It feels somehow relevant that I was lecturing about Sartre’s No Exit and how “Hell is other people.” just this past week. This kind of Hell is just an illusion – a perspective – isn’t it?

I guess this is a pledge to myself: to unlearn how to respond to events. Triggers. Whatever one calls them.

E. walked Leonard with me this morning. The moon is still nearly full and somehow comforting. I love how the blackbirds sing so loudly in the dark. Home again, I made a huge breakfast salad with fresh chilis, broccolini, spinach, and the last bit of kale from the derelict greenhouse. Two soft boiled eggs and a splash of olive oil. More coffee.

This is self-care.

And now I need to go to work.

how I hate the word “journey”