Day 70: Rest.

We are rewatching Game of Thrones, although after two episodes of Joffrey, I don't know if I can do it all again. Every episode takes at least an extra ten minutes while we pause and dissect the sigils in the opening credits, or the sets we'll see again later, or the costumes, or the soft baby faces of everyone on the show. Tyrion's golden mane and drunken face break my heart--somehow it's all much sadder the third time through (once books, twice show). Knowing how much he is capable of, his great heart and ambition and mind all stymied by 20 years of peacetime, during which he mostly whiles away the time reading, drinking, fucking and being insulted.

I know that Game of Thrones is fantasy and fiction, but it reminds me how important fantasy is. How important fiction is and how easily it is brushed aside.

Why do we do it? Why do we write fiction? Why not tell the true stories? Perhaps because there is ego wrapped up in the true stories--that the teller knew such a person or was such a person. In fiction everyone is a cypher, a reflection, a mirage that we co-create with the writer.

So many adults I know don't read fiction anymore. I don't read as much as I used to but I do still read it and feel better for having done it.

I want to read more fiction. I am thinking also of hibernating. As the heat of summer comes on, perhaps it's true that even southern California can be seasonal. In Minnesota I was astonished by the seasons, by the strength of the natural world and the way your body changed to meet the seasons, whether you wanted it to or not. In winter you become slow, it is hard to get out of bed. When you are young you can push through it to the other side but as time goes by you realize: Let's just have hot tea. Let's light a candle and remember that summer will return. Let's not push so hard.

Here in the gentle climate of Southern California, it's easy to overlook, to push past any weather. You become adept at identifying temperatures between 65 and 80, but anything outside that range is simply Hot or Cold. But the summer is Hot. The sun is intense. I remember now the way I used to keep the blinds shut in New Mexico, a rest from the heat and the blindness.

I wonder about summer hibernation because I feel a great hibernation coming on. I want to archive every email, I want to throw out everything, I want to burn my to-do lists, I want to play video games, I want to be aimless. I want to rest. I want to stare at trees.

Tonight I realized something new: I keep moving and working all the time because I can't tell the difference between hibernation and depression. Hibernation and depression can arrive hand-in-hand, so if I deny the need to rest, I deny also the sadness and hopelessness that sometimes comes with it.

It's a strategy but not a good one. Besides, it doesn't actually work.

I've learned to trust sleep, to know that it is always good for me, even if I feel I haven't earned it (ugh Protestant work ethic) or even if I can't figure out why I need it.

I want to learn to like hibernation. To find ways of resting and restoring myself that feel good, that don't threaten what I think of as My Life, a jumble of habits and rules and desires that keep my house clean and my bank account okay. I feel always like I must produce. When I rest, I want to read all the books I've put off or clean the house or otherwise reduce the backlog of life, but that is not rest. That is simply working off guilt.

So now I turn my lasers toward learning to rest. To rest without purpose but not without benefit. I listened to a podcast recently where the speaker drew a line between health care (brushing our teeth, eating vegetables, etc.) and self-care. She argued that we think of brushing our teeth as self-care when really it's just the bare minimum needed for our health. I have been good at improving my health care; time to look for something better.


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