Today is effectively the last day of summer for me. I’m scheduled to work tomorrow and through the whole weekend, with classes starting the very next day on Monday. Thus, I bid farewell to a subsection of one of the weirdest yet informative times of my life.
Though classes are starting again, and I do have to physically be at one of them (wish me luck), quarantine is still the dominant norm with my family and social circle. Rightfully so: COVID 19 cases are rising along with the mortality rate, so I’m very fortunate that both my friends and family are taking this pandemic with the seriousness it warrants.
My last several posts will help illustrate the point I’m trying to make. This summer, hell, this year has been the weirdest I’ve ever lived through. We’re not even ¾ of the way through and the world seems to be falling deeper into its own insanity with each flip of the calendar. Despite my news diet consisting of mainly despair and reminding one’s self of life’s fragility, I’ve had some incredibly eye opening and enlightening experiences that I don’t think I would’ve had if not for quarantine.
To start somewhat on a trivial note, I’ve seen a lot of films and TV shows. Like, a lot. The at-the-time newfound free time saw me beginning each day with a new film, and ending that day with another. I had finally seen films that were gathering dust on my digital queue such as The Fighter, 127 Hours, Trainspotting, The Last Black Man in San Francisco, and Portrait of a Lady on Fire.
I also fell back in love with sports, namely basketball, through The Last Dance. I was a massive basketball/football fan back in grade school, losing interest around my early high school days. However, the documentary’s marriage of its endlessly fascinating subject and incredible nonfiction storytelling captivated me from its opening moments. I truly believe that you don’t have to be a basketball fan to enjoy The Last Dance. The stories told and lessons taught throughout the series go beyond a basketball court. These are people endlessly perfecting their craft, to be they very best player they can possibly be. Michael Jordan’s maniacal work ethic is the stuff of legend, and though it had been well documented before, the series’ production value and never-before-seen footage make for an incredible feat of documentary filmmaking.
Okay, tangent over.
I’ve also been more consistent with writing/posting here than in previous summers, which is a plus if I want writing to pay the bills. Some of my favorite work has been done over the course of the summer, namely the recent Disaster Artist and Blade Runner pieces. Even if I was critical with the former, writing and researching films help me appreciate the gargantuan process of making a movie, even the shitty ones.
The buildup to a new semester usually wraps me in a blanket of anxiety and irrational stress. Whether it was the high school worries of missing a bus, the community college scare of adjusting to a post-high school life, or a university plight of insufficient funds, a day like today is supposed to be a dreadful one. Oddly enough, I find my worries to be more, how you say, adult?
More than ever am I focusing on my own health, that being physical, mental, and emotional. Though I consistently lose the battle of checking my phone incessantly throughout the livelong day, I’ve begun to find the root to this years-long problem: I get hooked on doing one thing at a time. As a result, I try to occupy my time with things that are not phone based: writing, reading, meditating, checking the mail (yes, really) and listening to new music. So far it hasn’t been perfect, but my dopamine withdrawals are gradually lowering, all in the name of being a functioning human being.
Though this summer wasn’t defined by a trip planned long in advance, (prepare for pretentiousness), summer 2020 has shown me the importance of finding myself, or at least the pursuit of it. Attaining and achieving perfection is not possible, but there are so many things to be and to strive for than flawlessness. Messing up, falling on your face is the tried and true way to improve in life.
I have learned that not being happy all the time is okay and completely normal. To be in constant pursuit of that thing called happiness is an exhausting and often unfruitful endeavor. I grew up with a stigma that being unhappy or melancholic was seen as problematic. Sadness, dissatisfaction is the brain’s way of expressing that things can be better, not a death sentence. The idea of “achieving” anything has grown to be an arbitrary and disingenuous one, especially in the world of social media. Proclaiming one’s self as happy or satisfied is a declaration that never needed to be made. Dopamine and the feeling of unhappiness go hand in hand, ironically enough.
Alas, I quite enjoyed writing more stream-of-consciousness pieces over these last few weeks, and for the sake of consistency, they will be a staple in this blog. Writing brings a creative energy that I was lacking in years’ past, and entering a more consequential part of my degree plan, I need all the help I can get. This will continue to be unprecedented times as I go to physical class sessions for the first time since March. It is a bit daunting, but in the name of a change in aesthetic, I suppose I’ll go get an education.