There was an empty cup in my son’s bedroom yesterday. I couldn’t muster the initiative to take it ALL THE WAY to the kitchen, so I kicked it out of his room into the hallway and partway down the stairs. It sat on the stairwell all of last night and this morning. I just walked by it on my way upstairs to write this, so I kicked it the rest of the way down.
The empty cup sits on the floor at the bottom of the stairs, annoyingly. Right in the way, and I know it’s there, and it bugs me, but I don’t want to go move it.
I sat down on my bed to listen to music and contemplate showering when I decided the cup was a strange situation and I needed to write about it. Why was I being so darn lazy about it?
I’m not sure.
I do keep looking at the time. Right now is 6th period. I’d be teaching my favorite class. We’re on World War I right now.
I finished student teaching on Friday, and it’s only Tuesday. I anticipated a slump, but I thought there’d be a honeymoon period first. You know, where I liked the fact the long days were over and I could breathe again.
But for some reason, I breathe better when I don’t have time to stop and focus on it.
Deep breathing feels good for a second, but I always overdo it until I get dizzy.
I finished student teaching on Friday and said awkward goodbyes. I carried my box of belongings to the car and drove away in the falling snow and cried a little bit because it was over. I called my mom and dad. I started to feel better.
Then I got stuck in a traffic jam and ran out of gas.
And then I sat there turning the car over and over and over (after getting two rides with strangers to the gas station and back) , wondering why it wouldn’t start even with gas in it. Wondering why no matter how often I repeated the same action, nothing worked.
Then my battery died.
I sat awaiting rescue in the cold and wondered why I didn’t feel elated. I FINISHED. Four months of long, exhausting days of teaching and not even getting paid. This was the culmination. Another graduate degree awaited me, another diploma which said I was GOOD at something – school.
Instead of elation, a ton of realities seemed to hit me at once as I sat in my dead car in the snow.
Our trip to Scotland was canceled, for a host of sad reasons.
We lost our plight regarding moving my mom to Colorado.
My dad was about to get on a bus to protest DAPL and I worried about him.
My best friend (who had been visiting) was back in Scotland.
And I sat in a dead car, with nothing to look forward to but empty expanses of time to think.
Officially, a slump.
First world problem, though, I thought. And I made myself get out of bed on Saturday.
I attended a political activism meeting and I felt a rush of adrenaline for the first time in a few days.
But then I threw up in the middle of the meeting, and that activity was ruined.
Because the icing on the cake of my life was a virus of some sort.
Yep, a slump.
An existential slump, a first-world problem slump, but still, a slump.
I keep thinking back to this time last year, when we were anxiously awaiting our son Alistair having his heart procedure in Minneapolis. To help combat the fear and anxiety of such a time, I enlisted Alistair on a a ‘kindness mission’ and we spent the weeks leading to his procedure doing random (and deliberate) acts of kindness. It’s something I tried to do every December since 2012, when I did the 26 acts of kindness for 26 victims of the Sandy Hook shootings.
But this December I’d just been thinking about getting through my work days and passing my assignments and graduating. I knew I was lucky not to have to think about Alistair getting a heart procedure done, but it didn’t really hit me.
And now, the slump has resulted in me not even putting away dishes. Just kicking them around the house.
I think the sight of that cup was pathetic enough to stir something in me. The Light the World campaign is going on right now, and it’s right up my alley with the kindness acts.
Over the next three weeks I will be posting about how I get out of this slump, starting with doing things for others again.
Below are some highlights of what we did last year, in 2015.