Yesterday, I read that an earthquake woke people in California around 4:30AM. I immediately said a prayer for them, then began researching further. There were actually seven earthquakes there yesterday. SEVEN. That used to be my lucky number, but maybe not this year.
On his social media account, one of my favorite actor/singers living in Cali wrote a post that ended in: #whatelse.
It’s like he was inside my brain. It’s also like even Mother Earth is in revolt. Where do we go from here??
We’ve endured more in the past 212 days than I can remember in most years I’ve spent “adulting.” I’d list the fires, but that also gives them more fuel to acknowledge the damage, and I refuse to do that.
Truthfully, my two sayings this year have been:
“They don’t pay me enough for this.”
and a new fan-favorite:
“What else now?”
The former can apply to anything from drowning in too many domestic endeavors to anything that is more mentally draining on a mind that cannot seem to quiet.
The latter is what I like to call, “Team Everything Else.” In my classes, that’s the name I’ve given to miscellaneous tasks that don’t really have a category. For 2020, these are the seemingly unending litany of events that 212 days have been overflowing with. I cannot seem to escape the monsoon of bad news, and even though I appreciate posts with little nuggets of gold in a mountain of dirt, they don’t tip the scale high enough.
We have reached the apex of our year, and, in true roller coaster fashion, we are teetering on the hill before we suddenly plunge down into the next 154 days left in this year. I like a thrill ride as much as the next girl, but probably because I know that I can get off the ride at the station and don’t have to get back on if I so choose. This isn’t that, at all.
Here’s how I’ve reached my threshold.
It’s the morning and nightly news, the radio talk shows, endless social media posts, startling articles.
It’s the “what if” conversations with friends, the late night texts with awful news we’ve found or a new, restless urge to check for updates on my impending work year.
It’s even in the new memes, or cartoons in the New York Times that paint a picture of the rabbit hole we have fallen into.
We are currently, and continually, experiencing sensory overload and I’m starting to experience radio static in my mind.
Since I operate in Theatre-brain most of the year for work, I’ll put it this way: we are in an intermission, the voice on the loudspeaker telling us to remain in our seats, waiting to see what’s in store in Act II. The music is scored right out of an Agatha Christie murder mystery. The audience members are shifting restlessly in their seats. Backstage, the cast and crew are in a frenzied pace. I am in my chair, rolling my playbill nervously into a wad of crumpled paper. I don’t know if I want the curtain to rise, because what I fear I’ll see is the final scenes of Macbeth or Hamlet.
There is no peace.
There is no triumph.
There is no conclusion.
There is only waiting and watching and worrying.
As a teacher, I feel as though we have unwillingly been playing a perpetual game of Minesweeper. Under the surface of “health data,” “school closures,” and “virtual learning” is a lack of solid choices that leave my head spinning, afraid to put a foot down and find an explosion. I am not alone in this waiting game of cat-and-mouse. We all keep asking ourselves:
“WHAT ELSE NOW?”
to which there are no definitive answers.
My grandmother always said that we were never given more than we can handle. That each of us was uniquely patterned to withstand the fire.
Perhaps, this is building up our emotional muscles, as we careen into the second half of the crucible of 2020.
This is what we all need to realize…
It is perfectly acceptable to admit you’re at the highest tolerance of what you can handle. I know I am.
It is more than appropriate to say that you’ve had enough. I know I have.
It is highly likely that you’re tired of this roller coaster of uncertainty and you want to get off. I know I do.
It is also possible that we take this frustration of the “what else now?” and turn it into something beautiful.
These next weeks will be ones where the choices we make, the manner in which we treat one another, and the spirit of camaraderie (which is so desperately needed, as of late) can impact us all.
While we wait for the curtain to rise, our fate to be determined, it is the in-between time that we can make use of. Someone I work alongside has chosen to create a new motto for us during this time which implies that we will thrive in adversity, coming out of the rabbit hole better, wiser, and stronger.
They may not pay me enough for this, but I might just be made for it.