1. Now it is summer. I am still trying to relearn the self-care I renounced for Reeducation. I am trying to do this every day. I am also noticing how much more relaxing reading is than watching film, and how much more restful actual books are than anything one can read on a device.
2. Self-care involves not being required, and thence attempting to become another person for the sake of survival. It also means recognizing the toxicity of a certain environment and not allowing it to engage one in any of the many ways it can. Self-care means remembering one has rights and also might be right about some things. It means remembering to pay attention to the people who like one’s work. It means remembering that those who believe in pointless sacrifice have lost their power.
3. I would rather be going to this conference but I have to work. I would like to be pursuing cold cases from the civil rights movement or, if I had actually become the environmental lawyer I had wanted to be in high school, filing suit against the tar sands project. I wanted a high level career and if I could have had that in the arts and humanities, and if there were not so much other urgent work that needed doing, I would have been satisfied.
4. But in fact I work at a lower level. For that to be interesting and worth sacrificing for, I would have to be working on one of the projects I consider urgent. Then I would not be frustrated or bored. I would not feel so much longing, and things would have meaning. I would not feel that I was “fiddling while Rome burns.” It would be easier to concentrate since I would be doing what want to do, as opposed to do something else while trying to suppress my actual interests.
5. Nonetheless l’appétit vient en mangeant. There is a lot else to do and even if I would rather do the things that seem actually urgent to me, we will all try to do the things we have to do with love.
6. Yesterday in the café an old man came up and said I should be a simultaneous interpreter, I had rare skills. Thinking about this I saw how true it was. I thought of pursuing that as a young person but it was not ambitious enough, I did not want to simply speak others’ words. I see now that it would be more like working magic, and that it fits me in more ways than I realized then. And I would live in a city, make enough to live on, see interesting people and discuss interesting things … and might have more time for political work as well.
7. So is my lack of pleasure in the work I do have — more interesting in itself, por cierto, than simultaneous interpretation — a lack of interest, as I claim it is? Or is it a symptom of disinvestment in self? Or is it an allergy to my working conditions? I think it has been all of these, but is primarily the first. I am not even very deeply interested in foreign languages. They are my superpower, as it were, something I can wield, but not my goal.
8. But once again, l’appétit vient en mangeant. There is a lot to do here and even if I would rather do the things that seem actually urgent to me, I will try to do all things we have to do with love.
9. A social worker asked me about my mother’s life while she was dying and her comment was that it sounded like a life not lived. I disagreed, but thought the statement applied more accurately to me. I renounced my life when I went to Reeducation, and I have never fully managed to step out of the grave.
10. I will use this as a mantra, I think: vos podés estar en el lugar que te proponés. It is what someone said. It is unrealistic but not as unrealistic as the dicta I bowed to, namely, you should not be this happy, or this successful.