Perpetually Unfinished
Saturday, April 16, 2005

Lakefill 4/10
Originally uploaded by brittgm.
Written Sunday, April 10, 1pm

So here I am. It feels like years since I've had free time like this-- even though "free time like this" means two hours between Meredith leaving and the SEJ meeting/workday that's about to begin. But it feels like an amazing luxury right now, even though I must surely have had two hours free sometime in the last six or eight weeks. Because it's sunny and beautiful, instead of late at night; because I'm alert and calm instead of exhausted; because, although there are still hundreds of things I need to do, I will have time tonight after SEJ ends to work on them, so I can choose to forget about them all for a little while. Perhaps I ought to be using this time to tackle some of them, make some progress... but something tells me that taking this little bit of mental health time is what I really need.

So I'm sitting out here by the lake under the warm spring sun, my backpack over-filled with my laptop and my digital camera and my library books and my waterbottle, staring out at the green and blue and white, munching on potato chips and trying to figure out how to possibly put into words the many things that are in my head, that have been in my thoughts for the past weeks.   There's one thing, in particular, that I want to write about but can't, which has been intense and meaningful and, I think, transformative for me in some sense, even though it's only been a week. But I have to remember that I'm throwing these words out into the world at large. So I'll just give you a few hints-- it's about justice and empowerment and solidarity and courage and social change and movement-building-- and if you want to ask me about it, I'll talk your ear off.

Anyway, Meredith left just a little while ago.  It was great to have her here.  Better than I expected, frankly; the last time I saw her, about a year and a half ago, it was nice but very awkward and strange, as if we were floating around in some sort of after-image of a friendship that belonged in the past.  But it wasn't like that this weekend.  She was Meredith and I was Britt and it all seemed to work itself out. And I can't tell you how glad I am about that.

I've been thinking a lot lately-- in much of my free time, which, as discussed, has not been prevalent-- about what it is that nourishes me, about what I need as a person.  I was talking to one of my co-workers on a long car ride a few weeks ago, and she said that she had learned that if she did not find enough time to run and to swing dance regularly, that she knew she'd be out-of-sorts, not-quite-right in all the other pieces of her life.  I read something similar in someone's journal, talking about how they need color and exercise and writing and good food, need them in some fundamental way, that they are not themselves without that.

I wonder what those things are for me.  I don't think I've figured it out yet, and I'm out-of-sorts enough that I think it would do me a lot of good to learn what it is I need.  I have some guesses; that it involves reading and writing, and not just reading history books and writing on this webpage (although they're both important too) but reading and writing fiction, which I often let slide.  That it involves art, too, something visual and creative that I can be proud of, whether it's taking pictures or decorating cookies. That it probably includes exercise to keep me healthy and active and alert, despite how I often recoil at the thought.

And it's got to involve people, too, human interaction, friendships. It's often been true of my life, and it certainly is right now, that while I crave connection and meaningful relationships, I'm often much more comfortable on my own.  There are so few interactions with people that I feel comfortable with, and so time with others becomes, not nourishment for my soul, but self-consciousness and stress and the ever-present burden of hope and longing.  I know I need strong friendships for a rich, full life-- I just need to figure out how to get there in a healthy (and non-counterproductive!) way.
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Nature attains perfection, but man never does. There is a perfect ant, a perfect bee, but man is perpetually unfinished. He is both an unfinished animal and an unfinished man. It is this incurable unfinishedness which sets man apart from other living things. For, in the attempt to finish himself, man becomes a creator. Moreover, the incurable unfinishedness keeps man perpetually immature, perpetually capable of learning and growing.
--Eric Hoffer

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