Off Beat, Off Kilter

image I started thinking about this post on my way to work the other morning. In my head, the title was much longer. Something like… “Off Beat, Off Kilter – Chaotic Rhythm and the Ups and Downs of a 24-Hour Day”. So bear with me on the chaotic rhythm of this post.

My morning commute takes me through peaceful neighborhoods of houses that don’t all look the same, giant trees, and filtered sunshine made soft by the early-ness of the day. So, you can imagine how wonderful it is to have a barrage of thoughts – equal parts real life and story bits – battling the process of waking up fully. And by wonderful I mean insane.

On this particularly bright morning, I considered the incredible stresses my day job has incited in my mental stability for the last several months. I’ve always taken pride in separating work from personal life, and for the last 13 or so years of being a professional in the science industry, I think I’ve managed quite well. I love being a chemist, a scientist, a problem-solver, an inventor of things. I love getting messy and the dynamic people I’m fortunate to get messy with. I love working with colors and textures and chemical reactions. These “loves” actually make me a better writer, I think. Despite all of these things, my day job is quite demanding and many (really, the majority) of the things I have to accomplish at work get in the way of the “loves”. The worst of it is that, I’m spending hours on end doing these demanding tasks in place of the “loves” and becoming utterly exhausted and burnt from it all. (I’d like to think that these low moments make me a better writer as well.)

To deal with such pressures, I’ve always turned to reading, writing, family, and the occasional work out. Sweat and adrenaline does wonders! Lately, the life hasn’t been so balanced though. I imagine all of us have gone through intense situations that have just eaten us up and spit us back out several times over. You might be going through it now, and you most certainly expect to go through it again and again. Sometimes the pressure gives us thicker skin. Sometimes it makes us cry or get angry and then get all stubborn again and ready to tackle the next impossible thing. Sometimes you just don’t want to think about it and forge through until that long, awful, intense beat dies a grisly death.

I’m much looking forward for the remarkable calm and clarity of mind that usually follows that long, awful, intense beat.

I wonder if these experiences are like a classical musical piece. (As I thought these things that morning, I happened to be listening to “River Flows in You” by Yiruma. It’s wonderful. Give it a listen, will you?) A classical musical piece is full of quicks and slows, crescendos and moments so intense that you can’t take it, and you just move and feel moved to some place terrible and some place sweet, some place so lovely and amazing that it rocks you to the core. No matter what, the music keeps playing, and there are no stops. In life people tell you to take a breath and have a moment, and yes, those pauses and breaks in those tiny bits of silence in a musical piece are so important, but if you do it in the wrong spot… If you don’t time it to fit your own rhythm, it might break your song, and it won’t be right. At the end of the song (and there will always be an end), you will either be happy with everything you’ve been through (the quicks, the slows, the terrible, the lovely) or you won’t be.

As for my own personal song? I opt for one I’ve worked hard for, forged through terrible, exhausting moments for, shed tears and anxieties for, sought out the beautiful, hidden moments for, and paused to breathe in the right moments for… So that in the end, I’ll want to go back and actually listen to what I’ve made.

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