More time

A couple weeks ago I took the dog on a long walk through the bike trail near our home.

The world was dark, chilly and quiet as we started out in the street lamp glow. We watched the sun peak over the horizon, and the sky morph from black to gray to purple to orange to a brilliant blue.

Or at least I did. I can’t be sure what the dog saw except every single rabbit and squirrel on the path.

Later in the same week, on another beautiful day, I traveled to mid-Missouri for work. The trees — golden, orange and red were striking against the blue sky. I wanted to be outside, but I was trapped in a car and then a conference room. We’re granted very few perfect days in a year, in a lifetime, and that day was one of them. You have to grab those days and hang on tight…..or they’ll slip through your fingers like sand.

I’ve always loved being outside, although I didn’t quite realize it until adulthood. My childhood is full of memories playing outside with the neighborhood kids — bare feet on soft grass in the summer, jackets and rosy cheeks in the fall, and bundled up snow ball fights in the winter. It really hasn’t been until the last few years though that I’ve realized how much time in nature fuels my soul, and how much physical activity outdoors helps me manage stress and feel more grounded.

I’ve felt a huge pull to be in nature since my dad got sick. Shortly after I learned of his diagnosis, I planned a trip to the Pacific Northwest and invited my parents to come. I try to explore different trails and parks in KC as often as possible, and if nothing else enjoy the Indian Creek trail by my house.

But the days keep passing me by. October is my favorite month, and now it’s over. I had so many grand nature adventure plans, and I think I played outside twice — one of those times being the long walk with my dog (poor thing hardly gets walks anymore). The whole month slipped through my fingers.

I’m not even really sure what happened….life I guess. Travels and toddler naps, time with family, work, deadlines and laundry. The fast pace of American life. The daily grind.

It’s becoming devastatingly real to me how precious and swift life is. How rare a perfect day. How limited our moments.

It’s all going so fast. Too terribly fast.

I need more time.

Exhaustion

I am tired.

So tired that I know my brain isn’t functioning in its normal capacity. (Like, does that sentence even make sense?) So tired that when I was asked to give an update at a meeting today this is what I said, “…………….?……………”

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………?……..

This is a different tired than I experienced during finals week in college. Yeah, that wasn’t much fun, but it only lasted a week. This fatigue, this exhaustion, it’s been around for several weeks. Pretty much the entire month of March, actually.

But I don’t mean to complain, and I hope it doesn’t seem that way. A lot of people are tired, and I actually consider my exhaustion a blessing compared to what might be exhausting others.

My exhaustion is a blessing because the draining days of unemployment are all too real, and not so long ago. That was a different kind of tired — applying for jobs and watching daytime television (Hello ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ reruns!).

This is a satisfying exhaustion, the kind that says I did something today! This is a frustrated kind of exhaustion — the result of fighting for what I know is right, despite all of the forces against me. This is a challenging kind of exhaustion as I attempt to navigate the do’s and don’t’s of office culture and the nature of working in public affairs for a non-profit organization. It’s different from journalism (which up until January, was the only “real world” work I knew).

But again, I’m not complaining, I’m merely explaining. Because even though I’m pretty sure I’ve been putting in 50+ hour weeks (I kind of lost count) for the past several weeks, and even though I curse my alarm clock every morning, and even though I feel like I haven’t seen Stevoid in weeks, and even though I haven’t run in four weeks, and I am signed up for a 10K in two weeks, I love my job.

If it were asked of me, I would be there all day everyday, seven days a week. I enjoy it, it fits me, I look forward to it, it challenges me, and although I still have a lot to learn, I also feel like I’m good at it.

I used to think that I was weird. That I spoke too passionately. That I cared too deeply. That my standing up and speaking out made others uncomfortable, and that I just had to learn to bite my tongue from time to time. I tried, I really did, but I can’t, and I refuse to pretend to be someone I’m not, and to appease your prejudices and ignorance just to make you feel more comfortable. My heart has always told me to stand up and speak out, and even if I’m standing alone, and even if my voice is shaking, I hope I never ignore injustice.

But since I started this work at PPKM, I have realized that I’m not weird, and I’m not alone. Actually there are a lot of people just like me — people who speak too passionately and care too deeply — and together we can make a difference.

Now I don’t want to burn myself out or anything, and I think vacations and spending time with loved ones are incredibly important to productivity, but I hope I continue to live my life this way. I hope I can look back with satisfying exhaustion, and know that I dedicated my career not to money or to fame, but to something bigger than myself.

Oddly, I’m very thankful that I’m tired.