As I walk into my office, I scarcely register my desk, my coworkers, the work scattered around me. My mind is on clay – pot design and glazes. I can’t wait until my work day is done so I can go to the clay studio and have some fun. My job is just a necessary pit stop between home and where I want to be.
Ironically, getting hit in the head has made my job a lot more peaceful. Without mental energy, there isn’t room to want something else. I have not been able to simultaneously do one thing and emotionally desire something else for over a year. The energy cost has been outside of my price range. I haven’t been able to pay for work and also pay for emotions. No extra thoughts. No extra emotions. Simplicity.
Now, however, things are changing. I am healing. This day, this time – for the first time since my injury – I want to be doing something else. Not I want to be resting, I want to stop the pain… but actually, I desire some other activity. I have the energy for extras like wanting to be at the clay studio instead of working.
The day flows by with plenty to do. As the work day wears on, my abundant optimism shrinks as my pocket full of energy becomes a few lonely coins clinking together. Energy well spent, I will say – reports prepared, maps updated, regulations fulfilled. But, alas, it is energy I no longer have for something else.
I hurry out of the office at quitting time – thinking of the clay studio – and immediate hit a roadblock. A mandatory few minutes to transition. I sit in my car, eyes closed, breathing slowly. I feel my brain buzzing. I have to rest before I drive, unless I want a horrible headache. Minutes pass. I assess my energy – can I safely drive to the post office, then to the clay studio, do clay activities, and then drive home? Yes. I have enough for that. More rest. The buzzing mutes to a faint feeling of tiredness. I start feeling restless. This is my time. Every minute I sit in the car is one more minute not in the clay studio. Tick tock tick tock. Being irritated doesn’t make it different. It never does. Knowing that doesn’t stop me from feeling irritated, though. I mentally review my driving route, where I will park, decision points along the way. Another breath, and time to go.
Traffic sucks. Why are people out at 2 pm? Shouldn’t they be in an office somewhere? I miss lights. Each delay is another irritant. F*cking dumbass driver. Don’t you know how to merge? I get to the post office… and there isn’t any parking. Really!? I circle. Nothing. I make a wider circle. Finally, a place. Then a walk. And another wait in line. Damn it – more time wasted. Back on the road. Hey, speed limit is 35 buddy, why don’t you hurry it up a little bit. So many traffic lights. Minutes tick by. I finally arrive, and now I have to find parking. Mary has clued me into the wonderful world of brown parking meters – 38 min for 25 cents – versus the blue ones at 15 min for 25 cents. No brown meters open on Main Street. No brown meters behind Memorial Auditorium. Not even any blue meters. Urrrg. I circle. Tick tock tick tock. I fume. Finally, a blue meter opens up. Two bucks in quarters and I am finally ready to start having fun, dammit.
The next one and a half hours in the clay studio don’t end up being fun. My piss poor mood stays with me. I kill two pots while trimming them. I throw a pot that survives, but which eventually becomes part of my newly created “anger management” pile of pottery.
I become more frustrated, more angry with each roadblock, with each failure. Not fun. Not fun at all.
I drive home safely. I am tired, I am cranky, yet I still have that ability. Another blessing. I rest at home, and remember – these feelings are predictable. When I do too much – even if I can physically do it safely – the underlying exhaustion sours my mood, makes everything feel overwhelming, makes my temper short and my coping skills few.
Ah well. I did manage to make it to the clay studio. Now I know that I can’t yet make it there after work in a good mood. I’m just too tired, even if I don’t feel tired. So, no more trying to squeeze a few hours of clay in after work. My mind, my life, doesn’t lend itself to trying to squeeze anything in anymore. However, now, today, I again have the capacity to be dissatisfied with my present – to feel, to want an activity other than what I am doing. There is a certain promise of healing in that.