I have a tension headache and I know exactly what it’s from. I tend to hunch my shoulders when I get anxious, and I’ve been getting anxious often lately.
I’ve been trying not to use life’s simple pleasures as a last resort for escapism, but here I am, forcing myself to go out on my porch for just a few moments to collect myself after an exceptionally hectic day.
I’m thinking about the dangers of compartmentalizing my life so well. Each compartment doesn’t realize how thin I’m spreading myself across them all. I can’t even blame them for that. It’s my own fault.
The fresh air does its job well. I feel the tension leaving my shoulders like a deflating medicine ball. Maybe things aren’t so bad. Maybe I’m just having one of those moments, one of those days, one of those weeks.
I let my mind drift for the first time today, and it starts to get philosophical, as it so often does after an anxiety-ridden day.
I’m a sucker for a good analogy. Something about the way brains can equate totally unrelated things to life’s weird scenarios is so satisfying for me. Life doesn’t make any sense, but hats off to analogies for trying.
In this particular moment, I’m taking in my not-nearly-used-enough porch as the different types of currency I had to use to pay for it.
I think about the hours spent in front of my screen, shoulders hunched, tension headache brewing faster than my employer’s Keurig that I’ve used for the third time that day. I think about the dry skin on my thighs from having to walk home from the subway in the cold. The nights where my energy was so spent that I couldn’t even make it past whatever nonsense TV show played in the background while I ate one of my few meals that I had on rotation. Eating out of pure necessity, all pleasure gone, zoned out until I passed out.
I figure my furniture is probably worth a few weeks of my time. My wall hangings an afternoon or two of doing things over until I got them right. And for good measure, I figure the fairy lights could have been a long lunch or a particularly slow day. I think about all the ways turning pain and labor into an aesthetic is so unironically on brand for every stereotype I fall into.
I think about how I can remember the pains well, but the details of their cause are fuzzy. I find it easier to forget how to capture happiness, but the details of its cause are vividly branded, yet can be so cruelly elusive.
I’m back here in the now for a moment, just taking in the fresh air and the brief relief from carrying the past few moments, days, weeks. I internally roll my eyes at the realization that I’m living one of those clichés where you stop climbing the mountain and just enjoy the view. I find that this moment is as fleeting as cotton candy on the tongue, but twice as sweet.
I then remember all the in-betweens that carried me here too. Those unplanned and unexpected in-betweens that are forever immortalized in my memory as some of life’s greatest gifts. And I think about how wisdom has taken the throne where pain once sat. I realize that time has somehow warped all of life’s blemishes as they’ve begun to resemble character.
And I leave the tension dusted and dirty to be swept underneath my time and labor paid couch, if only for a moment.
It all ended up meaning something, which is more than I could have ever asked for.