I found a reason.
I feel like I often use this blog to post about self-care and survival, and this time is no different. I've mentioned before that 2016 was, for the most part, hell. 2017 has, so far, been better. I don't know why, exactly. The world is still just as fucked up, the daily news just as full of dread. And my own life is imperfect as always. Part of it is that my mental illnesses have so far been (knock on wood) less extreme than they were last year. And part of it is that I am trying very, very hard to live for joy, and to focus on the positive. If I see a news article that is only going to send me into a doom spiral, I just don't click on it. I'm not burying my head in the sand; I'd still consider myself a well-informed person. But last year I had the tendency to overload myself with terror-inducing information, to the point where I was in a near-constant state of anxiety attacks and ugly crying. Now, when I see a headline, or read a small passage from an article, I ask myself two questions before I read the rest of it: 1. Will this article fill me with dread? 2. Can I take any action, even a small one, on this matter right now? 3. What kind of mental state am I in? If I answer yes to question #1, no to question #2, and fragile/anxious/sad/just kind of shitty to #3, I don't read the article. It's sort of amazing how well that works.
A couple months ago, I went through a bout of zine/punk nostalgia, which led to me looking up archives of back issues of Maximum Rocknroll. In Kat Case's column from the July 2003 issue, I found this quote:
The severity of our present reality can breed overwhelming fear. Unmitigated war, post-apocalyptic disease, dramatically increased police surveillance; what is there to live for? I’ve found my reasons, and they are good ones. I don’t want to miss out on all the misguided adventures, restless conversations, wasted evenings, sweaty kisses, hysterical screams of self-validation, unmarketable art, unworthwhile causes. It’s worth believing in our little world, it’s worth it to be alive.
I've found my reasons, too. Poetry (in every way that word can be used), my friends and family, trips to Michigan and Door County and Milwaukee. Zines, typewriters, art museums. The wildflowers in my yard, and all the bees and birds that buzz among them. Growing tomatoes and peppers in my garden, growing a baby in my body. And, of course, The Velvet Underground.
Oh, I do believe you are what you perceive What comes is better than what came before