I haven’t written much here lately. (I haven’t written much here in twenty years.) But that’s okay.

Every so often I think about writing a blog entry. I log in, write a couple hundred words, and sleep on it.

For three months.

Then I get the urge to write again. So I log back in, re-read, rewrite, update, cut, revise, save a new draft, and log off. This has become a vicious cycle. Each slice of life seems very significant when you only publicly share your thoughts a few times a year.

Sometimes I don’t have sufficient energy to meet my own (unfair and unrealistic) standards. Sometimes I’m afraid to express my opinions—or reveal my human vulnerabilities—to anyone but my inner circle. Sometimes what I write seems glib and reductive. (See “unfair standards.”)

The immediate context is, of course, a worldwide pandemic. We are all doing the best we can—and it really sucks.

The larger context is capitalism. Who knew that a system based on exploiting some segment of the population would prove harmful to human beings (collectively and individually) and our entire ecosystem? (I could go on, but others have done it better before me.)

Allowing myself to be flooded with despair by seemingly intractable problems doesn’t help. But I also will not blithely ignore injustice.

So I will do what I can to help in some incremental way. To do that, I need to take care of myself. Part of that is being okay with my limitations, and being kind and compassionate with myself when I do less than I (unrealistically) expect myself to do. It’s knowing when to push myself and when to take it easy.

I’ve been devouring books in 2021. A lot has been fantasy or science fiction—commonly, with the theme of expanding beyond the Earth’s atmosphere into the immense (and frequently hostile) universe, or transcending our mortal limits in some way. (Cixin Liu, Becky Chambers, Ann Leckie, John Scalzi, Naomi Novik, Brandon Sanderson, Matt Haig, Neal Stephenson, Kim Stanley Robinson, and James S.A. Corey: thank you.) It seems natural to fall back into escapism and expansive thinking at a time like this. I’d recommend it to the extent that it feels okay.

I also recommend taking it easy on yourself and everyone else. I do try to listen to my own advice, really.

I do, at least, allow myself to feel grateful and even proud. Dawn and I have accomplished so much in the last two years. We have our sweet cats, our thriving careers, our friends and family, and of course each other. I take none of this for granted. I continue to fail to meet the (possibly unrealistic) standards I set for myself around getting back in touch with people. (So, if you have my number in your phone, or not, feel free to reach out.)

I’m doing fine. It’s a disorienting and frequently disheartening time to be alive. But I, we—all of us—are resilient.

2021 is done. 2022 — be better!