and thus we sailed though the gate

I’m a list-maker:

  • I keep a running Google Sheet of tasks divided by category;
  • I use Productive, an app that is designed to help a user instill good habits;
  • I scrawl daily priorities into my notebook;
  • I use Momentum, yet another app, to assign chunks of time to each of my tasks.

And all this helps. I get some stuff done (emphasis on “some”). From the specific chores related to emails, phone calls and meetings to the exercises designed to counter them – yoga, meditation, a hike or walk, writing – I flounder less when I use my lists.

But some days life is chaos and also I don’t typically include “overcome existential crisis by finding some beauty to fill that empty place where your joy should be” as an assignment. That would be a tall order for someone still trying to listen to her Headspace app on the daily. (I know, so many apps!)

And yet sometimes that undertaking gets checked off anyway. Like yesterday when my well-planned day devolved into distractions and despair.

(Do I sound pathetic, drip with cliché and privilege? I worry. My former chapters, the ones where I worked multiple low-wage jobs and filled out forms for food stamps and cried when the car broke down, nip at my heels. How far I’ve unexpectedly come. What treasure to live. I reside in gratitude. Still, the world weighs upon a woman.)

back through past Fort Point

At 4 p.m., I texted my friend and said I’d probably flake on our sailing date. Too much work, I typed. My inner dialogue was less succinct. Why should I get to go? People are starving, the world is collapsing, whales are washing up all around me and what did I do today? Ate toast and scrolled through email as if scrolling through email is the same as getting something done. If only the good habits took hold with the ease of the bad. I do not feel beautiful. I should work through the evening. I should exercise. I’m too short of time to get in my car and drive 20 minutes to the marina. I’m too frustrated with myself to channel any social charm.

No pressure, but you’ll feel better if you come, my friend responded when I tried to cancel.

I rallied. Showed up with blackberries and gouda and fig-olive crisps. Was not, perhaps, at my social best, but with the wind at our backs and the Golden Gate bridge in our sights, no one cared. My internal drama faded under that of the sky’s. The sunset slanted golden light underneath the gathered clouds. The requisite dolphins danced past. We debriefed about work, fretted about the state of the world, found reasons to laugh anyway. Nature did its thing. My friend was right.

Not everyone lives near a body of water easily accessed or a beach a mere few blocks away. Not everyone has a park or a mountain trail – not everyone can leave their home and find beauty as safely and immediately as I can. I want that to change. Much of my job, in fact, relates to connecting people to the beach, clearing the obstacles that may block their way. But if you can step away from the screen and out your door, allow the sky, the sea, the trees, the view, the fresh air to replenish you, to remind you of why we live, why we persevere, I will tell you this: You will feel better for going.

the cure