In May I said I’d write down some summer goals. By my July birthday, I said. I sketched them by the deadline; I sent them out a week late, because they needed commentary. (Y’all might have an inkling of how much I work when I take things out of my head and get them into yours… .)
They were, I thought, realistic goals. Even scaled for these days of omnipresent stress. True, in anchoring the Real Goals in writing, I uncovered three other unwritten goals. But that’s what the goal-process is about, I told myself, pointing all these things out to oneself. (“This is the Way.” “This is the Way.“)
I followed what I’d set for myself for a week, two weeks, a little more… .
My sleep disrupted. I woke each day logy, a little fried, and thus bruised I read social media with my coffee. I then read friendly books for counter-balance. All day. All day. All day. All week. All week.
No goal-actions. No.
A new friend I was hanging out with today said, well, sometimes we fall back on what we’re familiar with, what first helped us survive, even when we’ve learned better things.
A lot of the literature for high-performing women earnestly proselytizes self-care — in shallow articles, in scented baths and squares of chocolate; in deeper work, like Jennifer Louden’s, in learning to discern the difference between substitute desires and true ones. In order to care and care for, they state, one must be nourished and replenished enough to pour out.
Along those lines, one of my professors posits that original sin, that baked-in human dissonance, is a twin: hubris and self-abnegation. Original-sin-hubris — that is, pride as if one was God, as Christian theologians have taught for a millenium — seems, feminist theologians note, to arrive alongside male attributes. (Or, less formally, it’s a guy-thing.) Devout Christian women can, and do, pat themselves on the back and say, “I never do that. I know I’m not the center.” What women more often do, my prof notes, is to pull themselves out of the center — “My desires, my hungers, my needs are not important. We’ll take care of me when others are taken care of.” — in a move no less damaging. A God of love who encourages human thriving, we discussed, would draw us into a middle place: not “I got this!” nor “Don’t mind me!” but “Let’s figure this out together.”
So if I honor that I have needs,
if I seek to draw on true (God-breathed) desires,
what is my reading, reading, reading, then? Shallow chocolate? Or licking my raw places and letting them heal me back to strength?
In a summer of being only accountable to myself, what does failing my deadlines matter? Or mean? Where are the negative consequences of missing my set marks, when they hang like mist in maybe September, maybe November, maybe never?
In a culture teaching self-abnegation and hubris, I’ve never been able to tell.
And in the un-plan-ability of pandemic, it’s even worse.