Various and Sundry Poetry

nose to the grindstone

When I was in school, I used to love vacations (of course, who didn't?). I used to count down the days until I was finally free. I would dream about the endless swaths of time I would have once vacation arrived, all those hours doing nothing. I couldn't wait until these breaks, mostly because I worked really hard in school and I needed the space to relax and recoup.

As a freelance writer, though, I don't take too kindly to my downtimes, those stretches of indeterminate time between projects. These "vacations" leave me unsettled and anxious, but I know it's because I never quite know when they'll be over. - Once I finish a project, I wonder when my next job is going to come, how I can network, with whom, and is it time to pay the rent already?

Peraps its not even the anxiousness so much as it is an increased sense of loneliness & isolation, a heightened fear and impatience around work and - in general - the big questions about productivity, financial independence, & success. So it's no wonder that during these downtimes (like now), when I've met my deadlines and completed my various projects, that I feel the need to keep myself occupied and fulfilled with "personal" work, whether it's the stuff that's been on my to-do list for awhile or some new idea I want to brainstorm into fruition.

The thing is, I'm not even that excited to do what - for all intents and purposes - should be a fun and stimulating slew of projects. It's like I don't quite know what to do with myself without having my nose to the grindstone. I feel at a loss for words even, feel my own brain turn to mush, and am in the midst of a kind aimlessness that feels weighty, bulging, unnseemly. It's like having a picture taken at your worst possible angle.

And so, December.

A kind of quiet is heralding the end of the year and again, I am challenged by this stretch of a relatively blank calendar before me and once again, look at my to-do list, investigate project ideas, and basically think up of ways to occupy myself until the next client comes knocking.

Of course, at the heart of it, I know I should be kind to myself. Take it easy. Rest. Eat well. Take long walks without worrying about having to get back to a pending deadline. This is the time to be paying attention to uncalendered moments, sliding into the couch with a book and a cup of tea, letting the weather outside turn grey and cold and staying put when it gets dark. This is the time for a kind of turning in, a re-acquaintance with the part of myself that needs to start things over again every so often, that needs a blank slate, silence, stretching.

And as strange as it seems (and oppositional to what my inner judge would like me to do), I am going to try to put it all down. I'm going to try and rest. Let my arms go. Let the pen drop. Give my feet a place to relax. Give my brain a break. And instead, listen to my little nephew as he babbles and burbles his way through an afternoon. Maybe if I bend close enough, I'll be able to understand what he's saying.