Smoke, pacing myself, trusting the flow

A vista from Asheville, NC

[This is a post from a week ago, September 13th. I wrote it at the airport, just before boarding my flight, and managed to post it to Patreon and Facebook before my flight boarded, but didn’t have enough time to upload it here. Once I boarded the flight, I entered full “vacation mode,” and chose to allow myself to prioritize vacation mode rather than posting. I hope you will also allow me that grace, after the fact. I’m posting this here today for continuity, when I begin blogging again after re-entering “reality” after my trip, probably tomorrow.]

I’m sitting at the Portland airport right now, early Sunday morning, awaiting my flight to the East Coast for a week’s vacation that I booked about three weeks ago. I’m going to visit someone I’m looking forward to spending time with, but escaping the smoke is an unexpected benefit.

Things keep changing so rapidly in life these days, and often for the worse. For the past several days here in Portland, the air quality has been the worst of any place in the world. Breathing easily has become something we can no longer take for granted. On Friday I biked home from work, about 20 minutes, in air that was deemed unhealthy for as little as five minutes. But at my desk in my workplace, and in every room of my home, the smoke seeped in as well. Last night I woke up about once per hour, each time noting the diminishing air quality.

Meanwhile, the fires blaze throughout Oregon and throughout the entire West, destroying millions of acres of wildlands, as well as entire communities. I have friends and acquaintances who have lost their homes, and I am overwhelmed to think of what that must be like. The odds of the flames reaching Portland and destroying or damaging my neighborhood are very slim, but the specter of the possibility has hung over us all for the past few days. Would we need to evacuate? How? To where? Just this morning, I heard that although it’s unlikely the flames will reach us, Portland might still be evacuated simply because of the choking smoke.

A week ago, I was bicycling through beautiful parklands, oblivious that this would become our new reality so quickly.

As I have written before here, I have feared my ability to be able to continue blogging continuously in the coming year. Sure enough, overwhelm and fear have overtaken me this week, rendering me incapable of much other than zombie-walking through the motions of work and home life, pondering the human condition and mortality.

So… I’m reminded of how important pacing is, in all aspects of life. It will be important for me when I’m cycling through my days, around the nation. It is important as I prepare for this journey. It is absolutely important for all of us as we navigate an increasingly complex, ever-changing, and scary reality.

We need to protect ourselves. We need to help and support each other, through tragedies and challenges. We must not allow ourselves to become burned out.

So, for the coming week I will take a hiatus to rest my lungs and my mind in North Carolina. I will trust that when I come back, I will return to blogging.

I hope you all are safe, and pacing yourselves.