One Day of a Very Long Walk

A lot of hard things are happening in this world right now. Last night, another terrorist attack unfurled upon the city of London, and then the commentary backlash ensued in the U.S. For anyone who feels marginalized — for any reason fair or ridiculous — the world is a challenging place at present.

Relationships are strained. Media and social circles fill with conflict. It’s hard to balance action and restoration. For those of us who are particularly sensitive, staying strong at the core requires even more intent. I’m finding it more important than ever to stay strongly rooted. To look for inspiring people, books, music, movies. To believe in kindness, compassion, morality, and inner strength. And as the only things I can truly control are my own thoughts, words, and actions, I ponder how I’ll want to look back and reflect on myself during this time, months and years from now.

I don’t make much of an impact on the world in the grand scheme of things. I have a small and largely unresponsive social media presence, and I’m not bothered by that. My advocacy work is humble and only as involved as my body allows. And my work as a writer is project to project, and person to person. I am one small fish in a very large sea.

But my  personal mountains feel very hard to climb right now. I’m juggling new clients — and therefore new relationships — and many big question marks about my future. My most pressing needs seem forever just out of reach. My path looks vague; unclear, and I’m very afraid.

After a string of particularly ill days, this morning Mitra and I shifted our short walk into a slow, quiet stroll around our neighborhood. The Sunday streets were empty. The river was calm. Fat robbins chirped merrily. The trees are so green right they’re almost flourescent, and I found their color delightfully shocking. Other than a few early morning joggers, we were the only ones meandering the long promenade above the Hudson.

For some reason, not being a religion woman, the Serenity Prayer kept looping in my mind:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

It’s one I’ve often mocked (in my head) for its simplicity. But lately, I’ve been at a loss in figuring out what I can change in my life and what I can’t. My mountains seem insurrmountable because I can’t even see the rest stops or handholds anywhere along the ascent. I have no idea how to get to the top because I don’t even know who to ask for guidance to get me there!

And so that’s what I needed to take the time to find today: What can I accomplish in the next few hours? What will honor the work I need to do in small steps, and how will I also keep my body safe? And then, what can I do tomorrow? Where can I cut myself some slack? Where can I ease the strain on others? Whose advice that I have asked for in the last week or two should I apply to the still-looming equations?

Most importantly, how will I want to have behaved when I look back upon these scenarios? When I think back upon the thoughts, words, and actions surrounding the next few days, how do I want to have behaved? What is the very most important thing in each of those given situations?

I didn’t enter into my apartment with a clear-cut list of answers. But giving myself that time did give me some calm and confidence to knock of some of my list with more kidness to myself and those on the other end of my texts and emails. As this Year pits habit against a) social interactions b) my health and c) my sense of self, the pondering proved already rather valuable to all.

Some habit removal provides instant reward. Some burns slowly.

I’m still cultivating the wisdom to know the difference.


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