Michael and I went for a walk in Crystal Lake Park yesterday and it was late enough in the afternoon that, although it was a beautiful day, there weren’t many people around. I prefer the park that way, and especially enjoyed that, during our walk on the trail in the woods, we didn't see another soul.
The contrast with being in Chicago on Friday for a meeting made me wonder if this recovery would be on a different path if we lived in a city with crowds of people and commotion around all the time? In settings with large numbers of people, I still get into some kind of stimulation overload that seems to be a visual thing, though that’s hard to pin down. Would I be adapting better if there were lots of noise and people around all the time, or would that produce slower progress? If what feels like sensory overload was the steady state, would it be less noticeable, would I be adapted to it, and would whatever rewiring is going on in my brain be farther ahead, the same or behind? There’s no way to tell, but it’s an interesting question to contemplate, especially in the quiet of the woods.
Except for the vertigo and falling down, which still happens occasionally when I get into that overload state, the remaining gains I hope this recovery will yet encompass are all reasonably subtle and are more visible to us than they are to others. At the same time, I’m beginning to hope that my frustrations of the last few weeks might be at least partially attributable to whatever low-level virus we have more than to the state of my brain wiring. We’re both still sleeping extra and still have various aches and pains and just don’t feel right. Yet this morning, my thinking felt clearer than it has in some time, so I’m back to being hopeful. As we sank into the peace and quiet of yesterday, I felt stronger than in some days--particularly after being in the city the previous day. I have a friend who thrives on the energy of the city; as a confirmed country mouse, I can enjoy it for a visit and know that, if required, I’d adapt to be able to live in one, but it’s sure not anywhere on my list of things I’d like to do yet in my life.
Since I seem not able to do sustained or creative thinking in this patch of my life, I’ve been concentrating on clearing the underbrush, in the hopes that the fog will clear and more creative work will again become possible. For now, with the capabilities that are available, I'm focusing on organizing my courses for next semester, reorganizing some of my files (computer and paper) and finding a way to be more efficient in responding to all the small requests that come in. That means changing some of my internal rules about what to handle immediately, and grouping other things into sets that can be done in batches, to minimize interruptions. In turn, that requires re-training myself and remains a work in progress. All of the stuff that’s getting done now, I hope, will help clear the decks for actual writing, the instant it feels possible again. Among other things, since the small stuff is taking me more time than I’m used to, I’m working to group all my appointments and correspondence blocks into a few days of the week so I can clear two days a week for trying to write when that window opens again. It’s an interesting exercise and brings front and center important questions about my priorities in this phase of my life. I'm not sure where this journey is taking me, but it feels like a valuable process.
As for local events, things seem quiet for the moment. We’re all just waiting for the actors with power to take their next steps. Wish them wisdom and a sense of urgency.