I’m sitting at my computer, staring at a blank screen. There are lessons to plan. And yet I can’t move a muscle. I can’t bring my eyes to look at the textbook I need to reference. I can’t open the templates I’ve made to give myself a starting point. I’m paralyzed.
So I close my computer and go home.
Then, on a whim, I decide to take a bath and read. I’ve been promising myself I’d do this for weeks, looking longingly at the tub and thinking, “I would enjoy that so much,” and yet never doing it. So finally I just did it. And the book I brought was Daring Greatly.
The dog days of summer are upon me, but instead of howling at the moon, I’m lying curled up in my bed without the energy or motivation to get to all these things I want to do. I’m making steady yet slow progress, but I can’t seem to get into what’s most important.
I watched a brief video the other day by Josh Davis, talking about “When to Skip Something On Your To-Do List,” and his advice is simple: If your mental energy doesn’t match the task, then stop. Put that energy where it’ll be most effective and come back to the other tasks when you’re mentally prepared to efficiently work on them.
But, see, this is where my mind starts to malfunction.
I’ve been riding the struggle bus lately, and I’ve been riding it far: Despite the simple tasks I’ve been given on the conference steering committee, I can’t seem to get a single thing done. I thought perhaps I just don’t care as much as I want to–and although that’s partly true, the bigger issue is I’m afraid.
I’m afraid to push myself out of my comfort zone. I’m afraid to risk failure, and if I never try, I can never fail. And I’m afraid to honestly ask myself why I do care–because just maybe I really don’t care at all.
But I’m tired of seeing the same tasks on my to-do lists. I’m tired of feeling I’ve failed myself, failed the committee, and failed the people we’re trying to help. I’m tired of being afraid. So I’m pulling the whistle and departing the struggle bus right here, right now.
Tonight begins Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, the commemoration of the rededication of the Temple hundreds of years ago. Normally I would light candles and celebrate with my family, but tonight that’s impossible: I’m still on campus, hung between finals, and candle-lighting isn’t exactly allowed in the dorms. (I’ve got a friend bringing me his lighter, and then I’ll at least light the candles outside.)
Since it’s been a long time since I’ve last lit any candles, and since it’s been a long time since I’ve written anything about the Pirkei Avot, I figured tonight would be the prime time to reprise both.
My hands are cold
My body’s numb
I’m still in shock
What have you done
My head is pounding
My vision’s blurred
Your mouth is moving
I don’t hear a word
Sometimes I feel like this. I call it confusion. When I need to take a walk somewhere and wait it out–or suffocate trying to find answers that don’t exist. I wrote again in my journal the other day. I wrote two pages. Two pages outlining all the fears that have kept me away, all the questions that keep nagging me every day. I haven’t written a word since then. I haven’t touched pen to paper.