And then a funny thing seems to happen: the stress of work and the deprival of things you love to do, the things that make you feel good that you have give up in order to sit in an office all day, start to combine and morph into a fear of losing the people in your life you care about--alienating them because you never have time, driving them away because when you do you're tired, or cranky, or just brain-dead and probably not very interesting to be around. I think this is the worst part, the anxiety of losing the people who help to make you happy and keep you sane in the first place. And I know that for the most part it's an irrational fear, but when you're living in Crazy-town and not really feeling like yourself, it can be damn hard not to believe.
I feel like I've been kind of a loner for a large part of my life, and mostly relied on myself. I don't take a lot of people into confidence, and I seem to be allergic to asking for help. But I have learned over the years to trust and let people in, and I know how important it is to have those people, few as they may be, who really get you and will be there for you, to laugh and cause mischief with in good times, and to remind you to breath and steer you back to something resembling sanity in the tougher times. But I also know that it's ultimately up to me to keep myself afloat; to have the insight to know my limits and to remember that I have the strength to finish what I start. And most importantly to remind myself that my life is good and the world beautiful, despite the chaos of the current moment.
Yesterday one of our freelancers came into my office, clearly distraught, to tell me he had to leave for the day. Later that day I found myself responding to his apologetic email explaining that he wouldn't be in the rest of the week with the reassurance that "there are more important things in life" than mail pieces, and I suddenly realized that I haven't really been living this philosophy myself. Yes, I take pride in my work; in doing the best job I can and following through on my commitments, and for that to happen work has to pretty much dominate my life and take up most of my time for the moment. But that doesn't mean it has to define me, or defeat me.
In a post at the beginning of the New Year I resolved: "to make the choice to take control of my life and exercise my free will to be happy. To not let anything or anyone take the joy out of me, not let anyone make the sun seem less bright or the world less beautiful through my eyes." I think that I need to remember that resolution now more than ever, to practice what I preach and apply it to my current situation. To keep my wits and my sense of humor, and not let my job and all its pressures dim my view of life or make me an anchor to drag myself and others down. I just need to have the mental fortitude to cling to this philosophy, and faith in the saintly patience of loved ones to not abandon me in my occasional times of anxiety or delusion. And maybe a rock garden.
And if I manage to make it out of this election cycle in one piece, I also resolve to finally get the tattoo I've been wanting for almost a year now (sorry mom): the word "timshel", as a more tangible reminder of the free will that gives me the power over my life; the choice that only I can make to be live well, love well and see the beauty in everything always. Because though you may not know it to spend 5 minutes in my office this fall, there are more important things than mail pieces.