It’s early April and right now the sun is pouring through the living room windows getting ready to slide behind the houses across the street. The sky is crystalline blue. After a long walk earlier this afternoon the dog is lying beside me sleeping and I notice that the windows have an annoying film on them that needs to be cleaned off. It’s time to wash the windows, to let more light in, to prepare for spring. It’s part of a cycle and I know I’ll be busy soon enough preparing the house and yard for warmer, longer, more inviting days. I will want to have the outside inside and the inside out. Gardens will be built and tended to and plants will be repotted and moved. But right now I have the innate urge to simply rest and stay hunkered down despite the fact that it’s spring. I’ve had no desire to write, to share my life with others. I have been dormant for too long now.
Perhaps some of this malaise is seasonal, the lingering of winter, the slowness of the arrival of spring. I’m still in the mood for some hibernation, conserving my energy, staying warm and safe and secure. Recharging. That’s a big part of it, yes. And being seasonal I know it will pass. The days are already getting longer, it’s lighter later. Twenty inches of snow late in the season stalled the advancement of spring, blanketing the early signs for a few weeks. The snowdrops in a neighbor’s lawn survived and are flourishing again, the upper branches of the willow trees continue to flush and brighten in their yellowness as this snow melts and the groundwater once again pulses up through the xylem. The buds on the red maples are resuming their swelling and will soon drop their pollen and spent flowers as the days lengthen and the temperature inches higher.
All winter long I have felt no spark, no stroke of inspiration. What could possibly provide the needed stimulation to write something of interest after chucking everything and living in Thailand for a year and a half, and then spending seven months watching your father die? Every thought seems banal, every idea uninteresting.
It’s not quite as if I haven’t been living and experiencing life such that there’s nothing to say, but really in the back of my mind that’s exactly what I’m thinking. A lot has happened since leaving the Peace Corps. I’ve written about the “father chapter” but not about adjusting to life back here, buying a house, decorating and occupying that house, getting my second heartbeat—my dog—back from his foster family. There are stories in these but none of them have provided me with the provocation or fillip I need to shine a light on them or explore their deeper meaning. There has been no jot of newness, no seed of creativity, no grain of irritation that I want to put into words and share. My Muses have been silent.
Perhaps some of this absence of motivation and inspiration has been due to depression and grief. More than likely. The last two years were a bit over-stimulating and bam, now it’s gone, I’m left settling into a routine and a true retirement. My concentration these past few months has been bodiless. I pore over the newspaper in the morning and am uneasily comforted by the fact that the world hasn’t imploded overnight despite the assaults on human rights, environmental protections, justice and truth. I spend time on my laptop but mostly scrolling through Facebook feeds and signing resistance petitions, not writing, not being creative. I spend time doing crosswords and reading. Most days I mainly have the desire to sit with the dog in my lap, close my eyes and have my mind go blank. One good habit I’ve begun is spending 45 minutes each morning on the treadmill and working up a really good sweat. The biggest struggle is finding the right music to energize me and get my feet moving to the beat, to make the workout less onerous than my body is telling me it is. For goodness sake I’m listening to someone called Pitbull, and I’m liking it. There’s a germ of a story in that but it’s weak and hasn’t jumped the circuitry from the left frontal lobe to the right and down to the heart, let alone all the way to the fingers.
The spring cycle will warm me physically and emotionally. Energy and motivation will rise through me once again like water through a tree and I’ll be back on track. I’ll start by washing the windows, breathing in the spring air—and the subsequent pollen and leaf mold—filling my lungs with renewal and hope and a few irritating allergens. Life will continue.