only the journey, many more steps ahead

God help me.

I’ve survived the first week of the semester. It felt strange. It went well. But it was also stressful. (In positive ways (mostly), some not-so-positive.)

I don’t want to go back. But I do.

[One week down. Sixteen more to go… in this term. Until the next term.]

Is it acceptable to back out at this point? Maybe I can just let the students loose with the syllabus alone. [“This class is now entirely online! You’re welcome.”]

Waking up flattened in the morning is unexpected. When a long, good night’s sleep ends with fatigue, it just doesn’t figure. But the incessant ticker tape looping through my mind continues to roll on. Endlessly.

My thoughts are like contestants on The Price is Right. They wear brightly colored t-shirts with home-made decorations. Some jump. Others clap. But all of them are screaming, laughing, cajoling.

Until the announcer in my head selects one of them with the iconic, “Come on Down!”

Then the other thoughts jump even more frantically. They clobber about and hoot, hoping to catch my attention. Sometimes the antics work. Even when they don’t, I still know they are there.

I want to show up for my own life. I could be present. I could be curious.

In my writing classes, I tell the incoming freshman that they are one of the required materials for the course. They need to come to class and actually be there.

Am I strong enough to follow my own advice? I want to be.

Courage now.

I also tell my writing students they must bring courage — daily — to our class. The courage to be creative, to be authentic, to work hard, to accept constructive feedback, to challenge themselves, and to accept that writing is never done; it is due.

Perhaps the same is true with mental health. I’ll never be done. There will always be work to do, to live the authentic, health-filled life. This journey never ends. There is no destination.

Only the journey. With many more steps ahead.