Test

Where does my mind go? See below.

Sometimes I feel like everything is a test that I feel shamefully close to failing. Everything. And it all has consequences and considerations. If I say nothing, do nothing, what happens? What do people think? What do I think, really? If I poured all of my energy into this, think of what I could achieve! But is it really all or nothing? Is 100% dedication required 100% of the time? Is it healthy? Would I be happy? Who even knows what that 100% is?

Know yourself, know your limits, says one philosopher. Keep growing, discovering, reaching and blow past those limits — they mean nothing, redefine yourself, says the other. Everything and everyone is advertising something, all shouting to be heard. Proud to identify with a group or cause and determined still to stand out from the crowd, make a splash, a statement, prove their point. However much I might wish otherwise, I am one of them. We are all a part of it, there is no escaping it. It makes my head spin so much that I think I might puke.

Simplicity grounds me. If want to sleep, I sleep. If I want to run, I run. If I want to read or play cello, I do. If I’m hungry, I eat (not everyone has that luxury, but I do and I’m grateful). I try not to think about where the peanuts in my peanut-butter were shipped from, how much fuel it took for them to arrive at the final destination or how they’re probably covered in sprays and genetically modified. On whose standard would they be organic? Doesn’t necessarily mean that the farming practices are less harmful or more sustainable, nor does it mean the labourers are treated fairly. I take comfort in the benefits instead: that they are high in protein, tasty and unprocessed, other than a trip through the Vitamix to make butter (stored in reusable glass jars) for cheap, easy, sustainable sandwich lunches in reusable containers.

Eggs are more gut-wrenching. Organic, yes. Raised without any hormones etc. Grain fed… But the chickens could still be in cages, or in a massive barn and only let outside to a tiny yard for an hour a day (free range). What happens when their laying days are over? Do they want to die? Do they die peacefully? Are they respected or just thrown in a grinder? Should we really be raising animals to eat –or for any other purpose– when everything about the system is so huge and varied and often mechanized, inhuman and inhumane? I don’t buy eggs at the store — it is too distressing. I also can’t carry them home without cracking them… However, I might consider making a purchase from a neighbour whose half-dozen hens have the run of the acreage and live well.

I feel confident saying that nine times out of ten, I don’t have animal products in my meals. Meat is expensive and not at all convenient, or required for taste or nutrition purposes. The seas are overfished, methods are indiscriminately destroying multiple species and environments, wild stock is plummeting and fish farms are controversial at best. Mayo is pointless. Cheese I’ve discovered I can live without (no one was more surprised than me). Almond milk is delicious. Dark chocolate is wonderful. I hate that everything is wrapped and stored in and processed out of plastic and avoid it at all costs. I never ask for bags.

And at other times, it is the little things that worry me: Can I get up in the morning? Can I shave my legs in a satisfactory manner? Can engage in a decent conversation? Can I not panic? What the flip do I do now!? Should one aspire to have thousands of followers, post jaw-dropping photos on Instagram, to always say the right thing, sing in tune and be the best possible version of one’s self? Isn’t it enough just to be journeying through life, learning, adapting, reacting?

I feel I am enough. I am healthy enough to do everything I want to, am happy and where I want to be. But sometimes, I worry. Sometimes it feels like there’s this code that everyone knows, that I just can’t break.

*In response to the prompt Sept 30 (Test)

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