25 Oct What is personal time?
At 29-years-old, Lena Dunham (creator of HBO’s GIRLS and recent memoir author–a memoir at this age? Seriously?) has got it all figured out: ‘we’re all screwed up and that’s ok.’ Wow, I’m almost 42 and I only figured this out in the last few years. I assumed I should have come to some epiphany by now; that I should have some things ‘straightened-out.’ Well, in some ways I have, but new and strange moments of living in ‘awkward-city’ crop up all the time.
She attributes her willingness to admit shame, and be ok with feeling awkward, from years of therapy and artsy-type parents who accepted and nurtured her idiosyncrasies. If we all so lucky. Therapy was only something that entered my life during my parents’ divorce. Seemed like a good time as any: 13 was a pivotal age and I’m sure my parents were told from other recent divorcees that therapy was the thing to do. Plus, our parents were too coiled up in their own hot-mess to think about how we were holding it together.
I also read that Jian Ghomeshi–my favourite radio host on CBC–is taking time off for personal issues. Well, his father did just die. But, it reminds me of the time I asked Jian during an event, ‘how do you hold it all together?’ ‘Not very well,’ he said. ‘I go to therapy and I have a music room in my place that I sit alone and play.’
I thought of all this recently because work became over-the-top overwhelming last week, and to make it even better: a student harassed me about a mark. When did it become ok to berate someone so disrespectfully? So, to prevent the beast of anxiety ripping through my chest, I went dancing. That helped, for a time. But then I was so tired the next day, amongst other things, that it made me feel worse. I felt guilty. Then, I wrote. I wrote a few paragraphs of a story, then I wrote this blog, then I wrote some emails to friends. I got it out.
It reminds me of what Lena said the other night: writing has always been her way of figuring things out. And then it dawned on me: when is the last time I actually wrote for me? Not for an assignment, or to put a ‘great effort’ on a student’s paper, but when did I last write about an experience? Most likely in the summer. When I travel and write in the summer, it’s when I feel the most calm. I get to express myself in the one way that makes feel grounded. Write. This, of course, is hard to do when you have 75 papers to mark, a book to copy edit and a class waiting for you explain the semi colon. But when I do it, just a little, it kinda feels like I’m travelling. That I somehow connect to the experience of how I am feeling just by writing it down. I feel better already.
I hope you feel better soon, Jian.