YOU EVER JUST want to scream? Like, as loudly as you can, to absolutely no one in particular? Not a shout or a holler. I am talking about a primal yell that originates in the depths of your soul and spews forth with such force it shakes the tops of the trees and rattles the glass of surrounding buildings and changes ever-so-slightly the actual rotation of the planet. No? Just me?
I am worn out. Whether it's the relentlessly bad news, the onslaught of mostly miserable social media posts, the chaos of politics, the ever-present pandemic, or the less important though no less puzzling endless tragedy that is Houston sports (seriously, what the hell?), I am over it all.
I miss restaurants. I miss embracing humans. I miss laughter. I miss seeing people smile. I miss listening to live music. I miss the roar of a crowd at a game. I miss having skin on my hands. I miss not assuming every person I encounter is going to accidentally kill me with their breath droplets. I miss not thinking about droplets. I miss not having every moderately contented thought in my head tempered by the anxiety that has relentlessly pushed itself to the forefront of our lives for the past 12 months.
If you've just woken up from a 12-month coma, congratulations. You are the luckiest person on earth. The rest of us are all too aware of this objectively bizarre time in our existence, one that is seemingly and remarkably getting weirder by the month.
We're going through some stuff, America.
I am sure we will all learn a great deal from this. We must. Otherwise, what's the point? But that's for sorting out after the fog of war has lifted, once we can assess the damage and address the trauma. Our priority is still survival.
On her podcast, Brené Brown discussed the concept of FFT's — an acronym which stands for [effing] First Times — which acknowledges the inherently challenging nature of first times. Without relevant expertise or experience, we wouldn't expect ourselves to be good at something the first time we do it or experience it. This true is true for baking bread from scratch, and this is similarly true for continuing to "do life as usual" in a global pandemic against the backdrop of political upheaval and abject chaos.
This is all new. We need grace. We need to grant others grace. We need to grant ourselves some grace. We're still learning how to do this. We're still learning how to respond to this.
Forget about the purveyors of the toxic "grind" or "hustle culture" that have declared this the perfect opportunity to start a business or get into great shape or learn a new language. This may be true for some. But we don't have to make it out of this better off. For most of us, merely surviving is more than enough.
Each of us has a cup that we can fill with the various challenges, stressors, frustrations of the day. It's a reserve tank, of sorts, for the unforeseen. For the past 12 months, most of us have been walking around with our cups mostly full. Our baseline is almost to the brim. Almost anything is enough to cause an overflow.
Or a scream.
Whether an actual scream (which I need to warn you, may alarm the people in your life) or something that exists in a quieter, more figurative sense, I am learning it's crucially important to find a release.
For me, it's putting in time behind the dashboard. I drive. It's the only time I can mentally detach from the world around me. No TV. No Twitter. It's just me and the road — and a bunch of y'all who still need to learn how to properly navigate a zipper merge. Sometimes I listen to nothing at all, driving tens of miles in socially distant silence. It works for me.
We're so close to moving past so much of this. It's okay if it's still difficult. It's okay if you still want to scream.