Last month I started a new job. One which, for the first time in my life, I wasn’t sure if I was actually smart enough for. Then a week happened, then another, and now I have memorized about half of the hundred steps required for me to get a single machine up and running. It’s requiring every ounce of electrical, valve, computer, physics, and chemistry knowledge I currently possess. I’m learning something new, often two or three things every single day, and I love that! I also love building things in America, because we were a nation of craftsman once. I hope that legacy will bolster, especially in light of our increased awareness of supply chains how they may falter.
Starting new employment, even a very fulfilling and satisfying position is still stressful. I decided to recommit to my daily meditation habit concurrent with this new chapter, and today marked my twenty-ninth on the cushion. I’m far from any state of samadhi (I always have been) but I can at least be aware at moments. Aware of intensely fluctuating emotions, my body, and my internal dialog. Stillness is great, but it’s not the point. If I can get a few ten second spans of complete awareness within twenty minutes of sitting, then I’m having a good day!
I’m realizing that the dread of not being able to hack it is a normal part of the new job cycle. Sometimes it creeps up again for years. When I worked for Velan, I had a nightmare at least once a month about being “found out” and fired. Apparently this is among the most common of recurring nightmares. I’m slowly settling in and beginning to relax though, and my coworkers are responding very positively to this change in my energy.
I’ve also finally come to terms with the fact that sitting is not enough to maintain myself emotionally, I have to move. My outdoor club is shutdown for the time being, and never before has going on a solo weekend backpacking trip forced a moral and ethical conundrum. I have a really difficult time self-motivating, which is why I am in the club to begin with. No trips to the mountains, and no weeks spent with them to look forward to, has had a surprisingly devastating affect on my mental. I’ve now come to terms with the fact that grocery shopping is a far more dangerous activity, and of course all of this has to do with my mother. She has every possible risk factor for COVID, if I bring it home and she gets sick, that’s it.
It’s all a balance of pro’s and con’s. Going to work is a liability, despite all the masks, sanitizer, and having 100,000 sqft of space to distance in. Getting my own place is a liability too, because the next few months are up in the air. I have to hike though. Running has helped tremendously, I have to do that too, but hiking is part of who I am now. The impact on the trail community has been the most devastating aspect of this illness for me. With Kennesaw closed options are limited, and I must take to the mountains at least every other week. This weekend looks perfect, a day and a half of solid rain. I should have them (mostly) to myself.
I miss my friends and real human contact. I am immensely grateful for stability though, how ever long it lasts. The past month has been a whole heap of negativity, which I think I needed to process anyway. A book I am reading, The Issue at Hand, relates these sources of frustration as the very gates through which we must pass to grow. Sometimes that passage requires a surrender to the situation, but as an intentional action, not a cowardly retreat. Like floating on your back to rest during a long swim, it’s sometimes required to get you to the other shore. I was reminded of this very literally at Upper Goose Pond last year. I hadn’t swum distance in decades.
Despite a veritable bird’s nest of the shit, simple truths always find their way through. Eat decently, get the heart rate up, take the time to take note, and everything will improve. It’s so difficult at times. I’ve taken a few Saturdays to just hide away from the world and sleep. Eventually I stop listening to the bullshit inner monologue and get up. Then I make coffee. At 3pm… Whatever it takes is whatever it takes, and in these times I’m having to apply my mantra inwardly and forcefully; be kind to yourself!