Burn It Down.

Over last summer, when I was frantically and pleadingly
looking for work, following my graduation, I was on the phone with a friend.
I told him that if something didn’t change soon, I was going to simply burn it all down.
He asked me what I meant by that, and in my frustration and
desperation, I could only reply that I would just fuck everything up. If it was
shit anyway, what would more shit matter? Who knows, maybe I’d relapse, sleep
with a bunch of people, get into hard drugs, leave California with no plan and no net. Whatever it was,
my grinding ache for change would catalyze the burning down of the bridges to
safety and identity I’d built for myself. – Fuck it.
Luckily, a) I could hear myself, and how ludicrous it would
be to do anything to jeopardize the few scraggs of stability I had, and b) I
got a job soon thereafter.
However, I have some of the same feelings coming up at the
And some of the same perspective, but sometimes, Fuck
When I was in the hospital last week, and they’re monitoring
the recurring eye infection, the eye doctor reported to me that the right pupil
of my long harangued right eye was slightly smaller than my left. He said,
That’s strange. … And that’s it. He didn’t have an explanation, and said he
hoped it would simply correct itself. Like these eye things have done in the
Then yesterday, I noticed that the vision in my right eye
had become slightly weaker than my left. And again, I feel like I’m being …
tested? Not given a break? Harassed?
If this doesn’t change, if something doesn’t let up, I’m
going to burn it down
Is how the thought went this morning. More a repetition of
words, echoes of last year than actual current emotion, but the tears of
exhaustion and relentless “bucking up” were real and current enough.
I’m reading Brene Brown’s book on resilience, and I have all
the markers of someone who is. And I’m TIRED of being resilient. And yet, what
else is there? You buck up, you show up. You do what’s asked of you, because in
this life that’s all and only the thing that we can do.
What else is there?
Well, sure, I could burn it down. I could make my life
harder than it is now by making decisions that cut at my self-esteem and
relationships. But, I know that won’t and doesn’t help. Creating more chaos to
distract from other chaos doesn’t actually solve the original chaos. It simply compounds it.
Making a knot into a bigger knot so you don’t have to see
the original knot isn’t a strategy for untangling or serenity.
So, what? What then, what now?
One of the tools of resilience is spirituality, which she
defines, and I paraphrase loosely as the belief that things can change. Pretty
much, a belief in hope and the common bond of humanity. One thing I can hold
onto from her definitions is the idea of believing in change. The power of
things to change. That perhaps that’s a “Higher Power” – things will change.
It’s the seed of hope, and the antidote to hopelessness and powerlessness.
Will I go blind in my right eye? I don’t know. But something
will change, or this will become the natural state of my eye, in which case
I’ll adjust to that, and that will be
the change.
Another quality of resilience is perspective. Regaining our
footholds of self, something I’ve talked about often here, about reminding
myself who I am, instead of falling down the rabbit hole of despair of
everything bad happens to me. Sure, bad shit is and has happened to me. But
that’s not the whole of the story. I may not get to day one of the professional
development day today (spending an hour on Oakland city bus with a compromised
immune system is probably not the best thing for my health), but I am borrowing
my friend’s car for tomorrow, and will certainly be able to meet with the literary
agent I signed up to meet. I have work to do today. Functional, parametered
things to do. I have a blog to edit, a proposal to finish, pages to print.
My whole life is not defined by this episode, the eye, or the cancer. That’s
I still lick the delicious pop of evil, and square my jaw
with the taste of destroying what I’ve built simply so I don’t have to feel
what I am feeling.
But, for this week at least, I’ve simply eaten my feelings
“away,” which I guess is better than drinking them. 

One thought on “Burn It Down.

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