Not my usual Monday post, but my head is overflowing with thoughts these days and it’s getting harder to push them away. I decided to trust myself (and all of you) by writing today about something other than books. Namely, life outside the world of reading. It’s a leap, because I’m not a fan of oversharing or platitudes and I may veer into both in the following paragraphs.
I’m immensely grateful that my world hasn’t been upended by any of the unprecedented (I’m starting to hate that word) events in the U.S. and world of the last 6 years. But even for those of us who haven’t suffered, there’s a psychic toll exacted by a landscape that feels increasingly volatile and toxic. A new reality where the mindset of altruism and ‘the greater good’ has declined into division and ‘what’s in it for me?’. This is difficult enough to understand amongst everyday people in our communities, but when it so easily applies to the men who are supposed to be leading countries (including this one) it’s dystopian in its impact.
This pulls me in several different directions. One that feels frivolous to be spending my time posting reviews about books when there’s so much despair in the world now. That this is what I spend my time doing. Who cares about books when there is an egomaniacal dictator so unstable that the words WWIII and nuclear have entered everyday conversation?
Then there is the part that believes reading to be one of life’s essentials and that by writing my reviews I’m helping open people’s minds to places and lives they’ve never considered before. Not to mention respite for those who need to escape from reality for a bit. That this is essential to staying sane. But, is this true or just what I need to believe?
Both of these feelings collide with a more insidious feeling: Apathy. Inertia. Ennui. The fact is, sometimes it is almost impossible to dredge words from the sludge in my head to write reviews. That even something as inconsequential as a book blog is beyond my mental bandwidth. That, even though I’m safe and healthy, I have moments, even days, when all I want to do is curl up and read, not look up and out, but retreat, draw further inward into fictional worlds.
While the first two mindsets might be specific to me, I feel fairly certain the third is not. I personally know too many people who are fraying. Even as disease, war, climate change, and political upheaval are occurring, life happens and needs to be managed. Where is the mental fortitude supposed to come from when we’ve already been stretched thin by coping with so many toxic events? Especially, given a vague sense that there is worse to come.
I wish I had answers, but I don’t. If you’re in a happy place, that’s wonderful. If not, I’m saying this to myself as much as to any of you who need to hear it: You’re not wrong, this is not all right. Much of what is happening is out of our control and scary, so feeling shame because you can’t muster the person you used to be is cruel. Be kind. Be patient. To yourself and those around you. We’re all doing the best we can.