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January (the first of 2 monthly posts)

No, you don't

have

to live like a refugee.

- Tom Petty



Man, am I tired. And I have indigestion. Do I need to take that second Tums? Is this from all the vitamins I took today, or is it from the caffeine? Perhaps it's the chili I had for dinner, or all of the above. I just know that it doesn't feel like it matters to write anything. At all. I just want to sleep, and dream of handsome jawlines and warm, caring eyes. I want to be done with any kind of responsibility, or discipline, or care-taking. I don't want to do laundry, or cook, or clean, or buy groceries ever again. I think this is just January. I was feeling a little better when the sun was out this afternoon, and in the midst of drinking all that caffeine. But now I just feel regret. For wasting the day away and not having anything to show for it. Productivity is overrated, right? I believe in being a human being, not a human doing. And yet, the empty screen beckons.


All because I laid out a goal. I said I would post twice a month. I based it on the fact that's what I usually averagein the months I choose to write. But January doesn't feel like a month to write, at least not today. (I sure am good at writing sentences about how much I don't want to write right now, aren't I?) It's just gross to feel gross, you know? I'm tired of the burning sensation just below my esophagus. I'm tired of trying to swallow it down, or ignore it. I'm bothered by the bright lights, and the dry eyes, and the fact that I always write the same sentences over and over again.


Why can't I focus, fake it 'til I make it, and get some freaking work done? Because it doesn't feel valuable, like anyone's going to read it. But I keep thinking of the line from that one song: "this is the sound of one voice." It's so simple, and beautiful, and clear. And it feels important when I listen to it. Like one voice matters, and I'm so grateful to have heard that woman sing that one obvious truth.


I wrote one long rambling paragraph for an Instagram photo last night, and was surprised to find myself asking this question: "What if the voice I most need to hear right now is my own?"


For most of my life I've been known as a quiet person. My voice is soft and I don't usually have a lot to say. I like listening better because I get nervous when people focus on me for too long. But lately I've been asking myself if I want to be the same person for the second half of my life that I've been for the first half, and the answer is "no." Not because I think I've been bad, but because who wants to be a 44 year-old 88 year-old? How frustrating and boring to be the kind of person who never wants to grow and change, who thinks she's arrived somehow, and has nothing left to learn.


So maybe 2021 will be the year I become loud, and obnoxious, and finally stop ending my sentences with three sets of adjectives. Who knows? Maybe this is the year I'll start writing about how much I love to write, and how good I am at it. Why, it's not hard at all, actually. I mean, I only started this post thirty minutes ago, and I already have nearly 600 words.


This morning I randomly heard the song Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper twice, within twenty minutes. Seriously, it was on one radio station on the way to Chipotle, and when I got back in the car with my food it was on another station. I sang along both times, and wondered what the world was trying to tell me. Then, after having tea with an good friend this afternoon, I heard the Tom Petty song referenced at the top of this post, and thought about how often we let our false feelings dictate our outlook.


What a gift Tom Petty was, and what a gift Cyndi Lauper still is, rocking a mohawk at 67 in that psoriasis commercial. How sad it is to think about either one of them deciding not to sing, not to risk sharing their songs and lyrics with the world.


So even though I haven't said anything new or spectacular in the last hour, I'm still going to publish this post. Because I need the practice of showing up. I need to flex the writing joints and stretch out the bravery muscles. They've grown slack in the last couple of months and I'm going to need them if I plan on writing any more books in the foreseeable future. I hope you'll stick around to see me again in a couple of weeks. Maybe by then I'll sound a bit more like my old self.


Cheers and sunshine, baby, drink them in. By the gallon if you have to.



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©2018 by Janna Barber

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Author photos taken by Lori Douthat