My husband and I were driving home from church a few weeks ago, cars zipping around us every which way. He looked at me and said, “Do you ever feel like we’re on the edge of something? Like life is moving too quickly in urban America and something is about to break?” I agreed with him a hundred percent.
Here’s the thing: We’re no ’fraidy cats. We can get in there and drag race with the best of them. However, that afternoon, we were doing 80 in a 65 mph zone, and people were flying by us. This is not uncommon in Atlanta — on any day of the week.
I’ve noticed the same tendency in myself. Like Captain Marvel, I want to go “higher, further, faster,” and as a result, I end up working too long and too hard, redeeming every moment of time I can get my hands on. An afternoon isn’t a time to relax; it’s a few spare hours when I can get ahead on something else. The cat won’t sit on my lap because he knows I’ll just get up again. I can’t even take a nap. My body just isn’t wired to do it any longer.
I know fatigue is a real issue for those of us with MS, but I don’t let it stop me. I just keep chugging along like a Doozer. Perhaps it’s because I don’t want to let MS dictate my life, or perhaps it’s because I feel like I need to get as much done as possible before MS does change the game. Either way, like Madeline Khan says in “Blazing Saddles,” “Let’s face it. I’m tired.”
So I just stopped.
I turned off social media — yes, all of it. I stopped watching TV (except for baseball). I’m writing this column and the occasional blog post for my personal site when the mood strikes, but I’m not compelling myself to use every spare second to craft something to send out for publication.
While I still keep a calendar to make sure I don’t miss any appointments or tasks, I’ve put down the goal-setting planner I’ve been fastidiously (and sometimes maniacally) trying to complete. Basically, I get my work done around the house and I read. I’ve also decided to take up two small hobbies. One is growing veggies in pots on my back porch. If that works, I’ll transition to raised beds in the backyard.
Many studies have proved that gardening is beneficial for our mental health, and I’m already feeling some of those benefits. One rule I’ve set for myself is that time in the garden must be quiet time: no music, talking on the phone, or sharing the minutes with another task. When I’m there, I’m paying attention to the plants and to myself. I’m breathing and enjoying the beauty of spring. I’ve also applied this same rule to reading. No music, no chatter, just silence; the two of us needed to get comfortable with one another again. Wendell Berry would be proud, I think.
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