Life has been full this last week. Lots of commitments away from home. Lots of driving. It feels a bit foreign and unusual to have days be so full.
Today was Sunday and the first day in a few that none of us had any obligations other than those made to ourselves: to rest and relax and play. The weather showed up for us with sun and tshirt temperatures. I spent a good chunk of the day in the garden, weeding and planting some new perennials which I’m excited to see bloom and grow in the years to come.
We also have finished fencing off about an acre of the property so we can let our wanderlust husky dogs run free to explore. The fence has been a big project, but I think both my partner and I have enjoyed the physical work with a practical and helpful finished product to show for the effort.
I have noticed how much my brain settles when spring arrives. Between projects to keep my mind busy and real, practical work to keep my body satisfied, spring provides a much needed change from the late winter months which have this kind of endless and hopeless feeling, like I couldn’t bear another cold day inside waiting for the weather to break.
This past winter held some of the worst depression I’ve experienced in memory. It was a wild ride to see it with such clarity after unpacking so many demons and learning more about my own cycles and triggers. It felt like a new experience being able to notice and hold my grief without trying to run from it. It was still hard.
Now, with spring here, its easy to look back and recognize how that depression was tied to the winter months – the feelings of hopelessness about the world tied to the inactivity of the season, both mental and physical inactivity.
I realize now too, though, that the deep (sometimes dark) thoughts and realizations and understandings about issues like social justice and politics, like those Ive been wrestling with this last year, really only have the space to take hold when we can afford the free mental and physical space to explore them. When life is full, as it is for so many, and the stresses associated with finances, family, employment, etc. take up our full capacity, there’s not a lot of room to examine these systems critically.
This is by design, I think. Capitalism, as a self fulfilling system, needs to keep us busy and full so that we can’t see it’s flaws or even the destruction it’s causing. All we can do is keep plugging away, pushing forward to stay afloat.
The pandemic undid a lot of the full and busy in our life. It has given us time to critically review our economic and political systems. It has given us space to protest. It has given us the opportunity to learn.
In some ways though, I think that too much time is damaging. I’m not at all saying that we should stay blindly busy in a capitalist culture, but I do think that tangible and meaningful work can help us from going too far down that dark path and keep us grounded. I think that there’s a necessary balance between meaningful work to feel fulfilled and time and space to learn and ponder and rest.
I feel incredibly privileged to have the opportunity to find that balance where I am in life right now. I recognize that it may not last forever, but I’d like to believe that even if my circumstances change, that I’ll remember the importance of carving out time for both to help keep the blues away.