Wading in Waves

Life since March has been like standing in the surf on a northern California beach. (The type of beach I’m most familiar with.) Sometimes I’m ankle deep, squishing my toes in the sand and contemplating the horizon. Sometimes I’m knee deep and feeling pulled one direction or another. Sometimes I’m waist deep, watching another wave coming and thinking I should run for shore. Then there are the waves the smack into me unexpectedly and knock me off my feet. Every time I think I’ve found a life rhythm, something shifts and I have to adjust again.

The days were all feeling long and empty, but then my business brain kicked back into gear and I had a slew of small administrative tasks again. The 20th anniversary of Schlock Mercenary is next week and I scrambled a bit to prepare new merchandise to launch in celebration. Along with that I was able to knock out some tasks related to Kickstarter fulfillment. This ran in parallel to the weeks of protests and uproar around policing and race. The result was that the days still felt long, but they also felt full of things.

My emotional state has been like waves as well. Grief over pandemic would crash to shore, but before the wave could recede it would be crashed over by grief about all the emotional pain on display at the protests. That would be crashed over by fears and grief relating to Howard’s health. Which would be crashed by the news about a spike in Covid cases in Utah. Wave upon wave upon wave, so I can’t be sure where one ended and the next began. Mixed in with the waves would be the small joyful things, like sand birds dancing in the surf to find treasures and snacks.

Today I decided to consciously step back from the surf. I’ve parked myself further up the beach where I’ll still see the waves, but not be directly impacted by them. I’m glad to reach a point where this retreat is possible. I’m glad the protests have become less confrontational. I’m glad that cities everywhere are beginning to discuss how to re-adjust their policing strategies. I’m glad that Howard’s pulmonary function test ruled out the scariest options, though frustrated to still not have definitive answers. (The next experiment is for Howard to finish out Schlock Mercenary and once he doesn’t have daily comic updates, to put his health first in his schedule rather than work being perpetually first. ) The most concrete manifestion of parking further up the beach is that I’m going to spend less time doom scrolling today. Limit my social media and news checking, try to focus on doing some writing and house tending instead.

Later today I’ll check in on the pandemic numbers for my state. There was a vote earlier this week to move the state into green status. The next day the Utah Department of Health advised against that. The decision will be made today. No matter what color the state chooses, my household is keeping our current set of patterns. The same patterns which we’ve had for several months now.

The thing I have to remember is that I can’t control the shape of the waves, when they hit, or how fast they recede. Emotions come, news cycles arrive, other people make decisions. I can’t control any of that, but I can work to keep myself safely on the shore where they don’t knock me down.