I Am Showing Up for the Apocalypse
I am poisoned with caffeine, I am poisoned with caffeine. I lost two earrings and a hat, I got several projects part-way done and nothing really completed, or if it is completed I am not satisfied and my coat doesn’t fit me and I also lost my winter coat and how does one lose a winter coat during winter? And I need to remember my ribcage is inflatable. And I breathe so that my ribcage moves, but then when I pay attention too much to my breathing I feel like I’m going to have a panic attack and so I like to pay attention to the tense areas of my shoulder muscles and kind of think about breathing in a sidelong way. I have nuggets of pure caffeine in the blood vessels leading to my brain, my to-do list has turned into an online argument with other progressives, I have turned into an online petition to the electoral college, I am in the space of not-believing and magical thinking and what would it take to make you give up your whiteness? What could I ever do to get a little less Phil Collins? There’s a ringing in my ears and my ribcage expands and there is no such thing as being good at meditating. The Buddha doesn’t care at all if you are a good meditator or not, he really does. not. care, he has no grade book, actually Jesus doesn’t either as far as I know but anyway, anyway focus on where you are right now with your ass on the cushion you bought at the last meditation retreat, the cushion that was too much money but it is nice, it is filled with some kind of seeds, how problematic is it to be a white Buddhist? You can hold that awareness and put it in parentheses. Are you hyperventilating about the electoral college? I am hyperventilating about the state of the media and the apprenticeship to fascism but I am not thinking about everything I could do in my inbox I am actually now in the state of just focusing on what the cat is doing behind me on the couch, pouncing and then shocking me a little because of static electricity, because it’s kind of winter but you know we don’t really have winter anymore and Trump doesn’t believe in global warming and I can feel a breath in my throat, and it is not a great breath but it is a little bigger than I could do about five minutes ago and I felt a muscle relax in my back that I forgot was connected to breathing and there was just a half-second there where I forgot to worry about death and one thing I vowed to do today that I did do was to take out the compost which was filled with moldy oranges which was probably terrible for my allergies sitting there in the kitchen giving off spores and we have to return to a state of functioning if nothing else than for our children and so we are not eating takeout for dinner every night and I have a thousand blog entries to write and … the muscles in my neck. I will be functioning better tonight if right now all I think about are the muscles in my neck and nothing else. I did eat a salad today, a miracle. I took a probiotic and I’m going to walk the dog. I am doing things that need to be done and I have actually started to add things to the to-do list and I won’t think about Syria, I will think about Syria, I will sit here and cry about Syria and the fucking bombing of the last hospital in Aleppo and what in the fuck are we doing with anything in the whole world and ok, it is better to cry and to thaw and get out of my to-do list head and to ache with this goddamn don’t call it dread not the dread, it is not the same kind of frozen fear. It is the warm ache that we all have to carry, the warm ache about what we have done to our country, but I also paid two bills yesterday and sent three emails to ask about money and then I got a novel I wanted to read from the library, a novel, which I need. I need this. I need tea. I need a novel. We need the islands, this moment sitting on this pillow I need it, there’s no good meditator, there’s only shitty showing up, I am past the point of getting a gold star because there are no gold stars during the apocalypse, only showing up. I can feel the pulse pounding in my skull and that is something, my heart is beating. I am reading entirely too much into the tone of voice in each congressional aide I call, and my heart is beating.
Sonya Huber is the author of five books, including Opa Nobody, Cover Me: A Health Insurance Memoir, and the new essay collection Pain Woman Takes Your Keys and Other Essays from a Nervous System. She teaches at Fairfield University, where she directs the low-residency MFA program.