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Latent Lollygagger: Desire-less

This month’s theme is Desire.

I’ve now written two blog posts and a short article centered on desire, and it’s time to come clean:

I am not really feeling it.

I don’t mean I’m having some sort of extestential crisis over what I want.

I mean, maybe I’m having a little one.

Maybe it’s the pandemic, maybe it’s the time of the year or the month or the day, maybe it’s… well, the list could go on.

For whatever reason, I’m having a hard time “feeling like” doing much, even things I know I want to do.

I wouldn’t say it’s like the anhedonia I can feel in the midst of a depressive cycle, which manifests more like a disinterest, a numbness towards life, on a much more global scale, but that seems very internally driven (like, my brain has just decided to wire itself in that way without really any good reason). That anhedonia feels like a nothingness.

This feels like the opposite. I wake up in the morning and start overanalyzing absolutely everything: when I will run, when I will work, what I will do, trying to make sense of it all, trying to get everything to fit together just so, until I think things into a pulp. A pulp that makes it really hard to then actually feel like doing any of it.

Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

When my mind gets into that state, it’s easily pulled into scrolling through social media, into mundane kinds of things like sorting emails. It wants assurance that I’m being productive through things that can be easily checked off a list.

It can check off a daily run from the list, but it takes the joy out of anticipating how good it will feel to get outside, to enjoy the sun and fresh air.

It can check off a 15-minute free-writing practice from the list, but it takes the joy out of letting my pen lead the way, letting words spin from me in ways I can’t expect.

It can check off a 30-minute block during which I work on a big, loose project at work, but it takes the joy out of the chance to be creative.

I do think that part of this lack of desire is the fact that there is absolutely nothing I can do to escape the shadow that the pandemic casts over everything. There is no escape: when I go outside, I tense whenever I see someone wearing a mask (it’s a very visual reminder of what we’re living under), whenever I see someone not wearing a mask, whenever I see cars parked in the park because we’re not supposed to drive to recreate, whenever I see people passing too close to other people, whenever I see someone coming up the sidewalk and have to figure out the dance of who moves into the street and who continues on the sidewalk. And that’s on a relaxing run or walk.

It’s hard to do this mental calculus on everything, it’s hard overthinking to the point I suck all the enjoyment out of everything. It’s exhausting not to have an escape, especially not knowing when or even if we’ll be able to introduce normal, even for me who knows there is no going “back to normal.”

Even if I can accept we’re not going back to normal, there is still a grieving process for what was and the unknown of what will be. And the process sucks out mojo.

In the midst of that process, it’s easy and I suppose normal to feel like nothing is “worth it.” What’s the point of that daily exercise, of doing things I like to do, when the world is upside down? No matter how much I academically tell myself that taking care of myself is a priority and contributing what I can to the world is enough, sometimes that dejection is too heavy to crawl out of. And sometimes that academic exercise keys up that part of my brain that likes to think there’s something wrong with me that I don’t feel like doing the things I want to do.

So I don’t have the answers, but I’m hoping that naming the space I’m in helps. I’m hoping that finding little ways to stay accountable (like the weekly blog practice) keeps me moving at least a little bit. That accountability has to be balanced with the ability to forgive myself if I slip, and the ability to soothe myself: that nothing is wrong with me if I don’t “feel like it” right now. I can’t force it. I have to trust that small steps to explore how I might feel will eventually get my mojo back.

What does desire mean to you? What do you desire (or how are you struggling with desire) right now? Comment below or on my Facebook page.

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