July a blur of trips; August a flurry of meetings and preparations for the semester; September a slap of heat, a freak deluge, thunder, lightning, and gusty winds. But today is fall. Crisp, cool–almost too cold for windows opened to freshness. The urgency to beat the heat each morning subsides. The day arcs out in new possibilities. I could walk the dogs later. I can read and write in the morning. My chores can wait. And Labor Day: a gift.
I need this time to pause. Still not used to the pace of my new working life. I haven’t found a rhythm yet. And the impending busyness torments my sleep. I wake with lists of people to email, tasks undone, calendaring nightmares. So here. Today. Breathe. Settle. Watch the world go by and contemplate peace.
Suss out where the chaos originates and let it wash over me. Reading Anthony Doerr’s Four Seasons in Rome…he talks about sleep: the more we chase it the more it eludes us. I fall into it easily but a cat, a memory, a worry, a fear wake me. Fear lets the chaos in. Lots of fear on board. New job = fear. Another essay published = fear. Renewed sense of confidence = fear. New people = fear. Thus the chaos. Usually I can unpack fear with a question, “What’s the worst thing that can happen?” I make mistakes at my new job (already done that, check). I’ll hurt people with my words (check). My confidence will wane (check). I’ll have to talk to people and some of them may not like me (check). So yeah. The worst has already happened. Some of it was awful–the reaction to my essay–but some of it was amazing. Several people reached out to me, wanted to share their experiences. Connections. New and renewed connections. The opposite of fear, of course–the concept I struggle with the most = acceptance. Argh.
I’m always lacking the courage to accept the things I cannot change. Though it may not be courage that I lack but the willingness to surrender. Sigh. That’s perhaps more doable. Release the control I think I have over my time, my calendar, all the undone tasks, all the things. Release all the things. Not that I ever held them in the first place. So the answer to my fears, accept that stuff will happen the way its meant to happen and that perhaps not everything will get done on my corpulent to-do list.