The spirit, not the letter

During the month of January, I did four things every day: studied French, studied Japanese, wrote in my journal, and did one new thing. I rewrote the beginning of a novel I started in 2018 so that I can query agents. I read (and this is embarrassing) 29 books.

I once told a friend who asked me how I get so much done that I spend half my time ripping through my to-do list and the other half drunk in a gutter. It was a joke, or at least more of one than it used to be. But I am nothing if not inconsistent. I don’t do “balance.” I’m either on the treadmill every day or “Exercise? I don’t know her.” I eat a fully vegan diet or one that is exclusively mac and cheese. I love both things and people wildly or not at all. That Carly Rae Jepsen song “Too Much”? Oh yeah, I do know her.

Generally I’m on one month, off another. Dry January, Veganuary, Write 170 Pages of a Novel Inspired by the Dude Who Ghosted You in Late December January (OK, that one’s probably just me), followed by Nightmare Person February (it’s February 3rd and I can already tell that this one is not just me). When I fall off, I fall off hard. Missed a day of meditating? I won’t open my Headspace app again for at least six months. Broke my 400-day flossing streak? The next time you see me, I’ll be in the late stages of gum disease. I mostly jest, but historically I’ve had a really hard time getting back on top of things without the fresh start of a new month or year.

And yet, that didn’t happen last month. Yeah, there were things I followed through on, but I also started Dry January on the 3rd and briefly paused it on the 21st. I made it through three weeks of an OOTD account on Instagram before being too tired (and honestly, sick of the male gaze) to continue. I kept my room clean for most of the month, then allowed it to descend back into floordrobe territory the last week. I was inconsistent from day to day, week to week. I was angry, resentful, depressed, tired, useless, exuberant, well-rested, creative, and productive. I looked/felt great one day and like complete shit the next. I dropped my identity as a homework-doer and skipped most of the activities in my RYHSY Inner Circle workbook.

And yet somehow, I made tangible progress on projects I’d been struggling to start or restart for the past year. I made plans for what else I want to get done in Q1. I started doing virtual sound bath meditations, not as something I MUST DO EVERY DAY, but as an extra tool for days when Pandi* is too much to bear. I bought a hot pink saxophone so I can learn the sax solos from a bunch of 70s and 80s songs. I visited two museums. I set some goals that are, like, normal. I’m usually fueled by the momentum that comes from stacking the days, which I’m realizing is easy to lose and therefore maybe not the best way to do things. Maybe January is what consistency looks like for me. Maybe this is the closest I get to balance: doing a lot of things some days, doing next to nothing others, but being unconcerned enough with the latter that they don’t prevent the former.

**Thank you Ivy for this one

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