Chasing the Scientist down Pavements to Fix You

I don’t quite feel like myself. Whether it’s something looming in the air, the effects of isolation, or hormonal dips—I am unable to tell. But, I do know that I don’t feel like myself.

What is it you want, Aisha?

I don’t know.

What is it you need, Aisha?

I don’t know.

It’s like being a toddler all over again when all your emotions and emotional responses are explosive and severe, yet you don’t have the words for it. I cannot explain what I need, but I’ll know it when I receive it.

I tried the basics: I ate. I took a shower. I slept. I socialized at a healthy distance. Those things relieved this moment of restlessness temporarily.

I still couldn’t find the answer, so I began roaming in my house. I found myself in the kitchen, digging out onions and pulling for a knife. I diced those onions and found garlic. I pulled out gourmet tomatoes and found myself making ravioli. I hummed a mixture of Adele’s “Chasing Pavements” and Coldplay’s “The Scientist” and “Fix You.” While waiting for my water to boil and taking note of seasonings I needed to buy, I reflected on what these last few months were filled with.

March didn’t begin in fear from Covid-19 like I remembered. It began in love and promises and a new relationship. It transitioned into fear and ebbed and flowed in and out of guilt for not being productive enough (or being too productive), sleepiness, excessive eating paired with excessive regret, internal and external screaming, laughter (or insanity—I’m still not sure) and now here. Here is a place that I cannot figure out. I didn’t know my places in the previous months until I had left them. That’s what this is, maybe. A moment of wonder. A moment of desired newness and growth. A moment yearning for stimulation that comes from something other than what I have done. I won’t know until I leave it. I hope that when I reflect back on this moment, I find myself realizing that this wasn’t a moment of restlessness but the budding of something new.

This social distancing is not over, and the way the numbers are climbing, it doesn’t feel like it’ll be over for a while. In the meantime, I hope to find some peace within myself in the form of cooking, humming, and reflecting on love that exists even in the most chaotic of times.

What I Did Today

I answered the question, “How do you describe God?”

Once I was finished, I erased all ideas, images, and descriptions of humankind in my answer. God’s face, hand, breath–all taken out. I eliminated all pronouns associated with God. Leave out all natural comparisons. If God is mentioned as a tree, ocean, cosmos, or deer, I scratched through that too. Any mentions of space to compare to the depth, mystery, and vastness of God. I removed all words that were or similar to all-encompassing, omnipotent, and everlasting. Lastly, I scratched through words that were or similar to divine, pure, infinite, and holy.

What did I have left?

Outside of some loose verbs, I had: Indescribable. Spirit. Yet, even those do not begin to touch the surface of who God is.

I welcome you to describe God less in order to know God more. Often, it is our perception of how God should be that we miss out on who God is. Be okay with no descriptions. Be okay with being speechless when it comes to God. Be okay with resting in that gratitude that you cannot describe I AM WHO I AM.

I Switched to Natural Deodorant!

Bold, right? I thought the same thing.

Since the beginning of the year, I promised myself to make a transition towards products and brands that don’t just decorate me but nourish me, while reducing my output. This month, I began shifting towards a natural deodorant that wasn’t an antiperspirant. I did all my homework. I read article after article about detoxing pits, the best natural brands, and the overall physical changes that came with natural deodorants. I wanted to wear something that worked but also had ingredients I could pronounce. Finally, I settled on a brand and happily coughed up my $11 to my local Walgreens clerk.

The first couple of hours of my new adventure, I didn’t feel any different. I smelled delightful but no difference. About noonish, I felt it. SWEAT. Instantly, I was ashamed. I didn’t care to test my new lifestyle while I was out, let alone at work. So, I did what any sane person would do. I rushed to the bathroom, and used my lovely antiperspirant. My safety blanket. During my article skimming, I knew there would be sweating. One woman wrote how she had to get used to the wetness for a few weeks. (Her words, not mine.) I also read about how antiperspirant works. I hate to say it, but I was so conditioned to use antiperspirant, I never stopped to think about what it actually was or what it did to my body. When you’ve been trained to use something since you were a child, you hardly think about it. I put on the thing that doesn’t make me sweat. I put on the thing that keeps my body from doing what it naturally should do.

Deodorant advertisements are working. They have you believing that something is wrong with how your body works, instead of gearing a product towards how your body reacts to the environment. Guilt contributed to my antiperspirant sales, not necessity. I don’t know about you, but when I’m scrubbing away my 48 hour chemical-laced antiperspirant, there’s no shame. There’s just gunk from a lot of chemicals that probably shouldn’t be lasting 48 hours anywhere on my body. Ultimately, I was ashamed of what came natural to my body but not what was left behind from what hinders it. That thinking seems a bit backwards.

I could go on, but I think you get the gist. My point here is this: Don’t beat yourself up for something that comes natural to you. That gunk you may find yourself scrubbing off, will need to be addressed eventually. Most importantly, don’t keep flowering yourself with things that don’t help you grow.

How are you coping?

My mind is racing. I can’t stop reading updates on Italy and Iran.

My heart is racing. I never knew my heart extended this far—to places and people I have yet to meet or visit.

I hate having to go to work every single day, and I’m scared.

But, do you know what I needed outside of the news, the rising death tolls, the social media updates, and the Rona jokes? I needed to be asked how I was coping because I realized I wasn’t.

So, I’m stopping. I’m crying out my frustration, and in fifteen minutes when I’m done, I’m gonna dance and sing and do yoga. Because, despite everything, I am still here. Right now, that is all I can do. I can be here.

I extend this same grace to you: How are you coping, my beloved?

Lessons from Love

I’ve been seeing someone I’m quite fond of. He’s a big car guy. Loves all things four wheels from NASCAR to go-karting. Meanwhile, I only care that my car is functional and gets me from Point A to Point B. A few days ago, he came over to clean my windshield. I was beyond annoyed. My windshield wasn’t overtly dirty, only a little smudgy. I didn’t understand how or why my smudgy Kia was driving him crazy. My objections to his request were:

“I can see just fine out of it.”

“It’s not even dirty.”

“I’ve been driving this way for a long time.”

Regardless of my annoyance, he cleaned it anyway. On my way to work the following day, I fell in love with the crisp outlines of my scenic drive.

For some time, I’ve been taking Lexapro. I need Jesus, but I also need Lexapro. Those two can and do exist together. This past month I experienced myself without any medication.  Before ever taking medication, I could describe myself as being held underwater. Unable to see clearly or breathe smoothly. However, none of that is bothersome, because I’ve been like that for so long that I didn’t know I was being held under. Everything I saw, I believed to be true, not recognizing its distorting characteristics. Missing that aspect of a balanced being–breathing fresh air and seeing clearly–brings a whole new level of awareness that is torturous. I was fully aware that I was being held underwater. I was aware of object distortion, yet still completely unable to combat what I saw and felt. That was my hell–being without control and being aware of it.

However, my lovely boyfriend offered me clarity on the tiniest of scales. He offered something that I believed I didn’t need because my car (and me) had been this way for a long time. How many times had I previously gotten angry with someone or a situation because it brought me clarity I didn’t think I needed? How long was functional beating out safety? In my moments of being held under water, my boyfriend was the breath of fresh air I needed. He reminded me that I was still underwater, and I still needed help. And those two things were okay.

Isn’t that what love does? Love lets us know that we’re not seeing through clear eyes. Love removes the scales and lets us move confidently forward. With great persistence and without hesitation, love kindly corrects.

Today I hope…

…for continued goodness. It was only going to be goodness but continued is necessary. I hope for ruptures of laughter that cannot be contained, relationships to grow an ounce more, and the hope that I will still be part of this cosmic dance that exists beyond and within what looks like chaos. I hope for complexity and nuanced decisions. Mostly, I hope for bravery to be honest, to be loving, to be extraordinary. I hope whatever spark is produced today adds to tomorrow, where eventually, a fire will show. I hope for everlasting goodness.