This time last year, I was staring down a huge project and juggling a substantial freelance workload. I was in that pocket at the start of something where it felt like we could do everything right. I knew it was all going to get overwhelming, but I was even excited for that. The stretch of it. But, as I typically do during projects, I burnt myself out, losing all balance. And then I strained for the finish line and fantasized about all the things I’d do once we launched.
This all wrapped up before Christmas, but winter was so long, so hard and cold and bitter, that I didn’t really feel that relief of having finished something. Sure, there were moments. When I got out of town. Or a day here or there where I kicked back. But if I’m honest, I didn’t really feel it in my bones. And I certainly didn’t feel my days open up wide again, full of potential, or start doing all the things I thought I’d do when all this let up.
It’s April already and I’m still carrying around the extra weight (literal and figurative) I attribute to that project. And feeling a strange mix of daily feelings; boredom, desire to find something new to do, and a languorous apathy that makes me give in to easy, lazy things. Ennui is not something I’ve experienced much in my life. I tend to push myself out the door even when I don’t want to go out. I tend to give myself long to do lists.
I guess I’ve been tired enough to let myself just sit with this ennui. And I think there’s value in it.
Because I believe some things need breathing room and that sometimes we’re scared of silence, of gaps in things. And I think we lean too heavily on things to inspire us rather than letting that happen naturally, organically. And sometimes we poke and prod things so we’ve something to tinker with, instead of stepping back and deciding what really needs to be fixed, what really can be improved.
Plus, I know something will come: There’ll be a day when an idea, when words, when some new thing jumps out at me. There’ll be something that wakes me from this slumber. And when it does, it will be more real than anything I could force myself into right now. And I’ll have the energy then for it too.
In the meantime, I’m walking a lot, wandering streets, taking long ways home. I’m scribbling words… not even sentences, barely phrases. I’m keeping a tidy house and enjoying banal routines. I’m finding a certain freedom from expectation in this ennui, a certain open concept ease. And I'm discovering there’s something beautiful in that too.
Images: Eye Platter Michele Quan from The Future Perfect | Francie Hester Vessel #11, 2014 from 1st Dibs