Meditations for Queer Femmes – Away from my Desk

The other day I had occasion to use the antiquated expression, “away from my desk”, knowing full well that there’s no such thing any more. I wanted to convey that I wouldn’t be responding to email or taking calls for a few days; that I would be doing my best to be on vacation without the responsibility of work, because that’s what a vacation is, or anyway, what it used to be. That I was going to take a break from the information intake and management which are now seen as a normal and necessary part of daily life.

Along those lines, I was recently reminiscing to Tex how incensed I was to learn that my cell phone also could double as a flashlight. I’m not exactly sure why this infuriated me so much, but it had something to do with how the cell phone had so insinuated itself into my life, how, almost overnight, it had become so imperative that I could never let it out of my clutches, that I had to depend on this small, powerful device for all forms of communication – demolishing, among other things, the need for many of my most beloved institutions, like the library and the post office – and now, for fuck’s sake, it was relegating my handy Maglite to the dustbin??

I digress slightly, but the point is, we’re never away from our desks anymore. We check our phones in case there’s an emergency, or that’s what we tell ourselves, but most of the time, we just want to feel connected, see what’s out there, who might be sending a text, what might be happening in politics, you know. And if we’ve got young kids, or elderly parents, or a struggling friend or relative, well, we really do have to keep an eye on things.

The bottom line is that, these days, we are never not at work.

This is not good, particularly for someone like me who has a hard time not working in the best of cases. I’m so passionate about social justice that I almost never relax, always scanning about for instances of transgression: the homophobic subtext in the lite novel I’m reading in order to relax or the racist character arc in the blockbuster comedy that everyone is raving about. I’m a fun date, let me tell you!

So if I’m already working all of the time and now I have a cell phone that keeps me constantly connected and on alert, do I ever relax?

It’s not easy.

The more tense I become, the less ability I have to put anything down, and that is exhausting. Both my parents have been ill and in the hospital, and because of my own health concerns, I haven’t been able to visit them or care for them as much as I would have done in the past. It’s been hard and yet humbling to let go of some of those responsibilities. To share them. One of the nicest things a nurse said to me recently was, “We’ll take care of your dad; you take care of yourself.” Oh yeah, I said to myself, because that’s the nurse’s job!

Overworked and overextended beloved femme sisters: are you at work? What is your work? Do you have to do it all of the time? What does it look like, what does it feel like, when you put down your work responsibilities – all of them – and take some rest?

Do you feel guilty? Do you have trouble relaxing because of “What ifs” and “I’ll just do this one last thing’s”? What is relaxation these days, anyway? Watching a show on your phone? Scudding over social media ripples and waves?

Even on the busiest day, we might be able to take a few moments to relearn how to relax. Do you remember how, sweetnesses? Everyone does it differently, but breathing deeply helps. Looking up at the sky helps. If you’re lucky, you might be able to spend a little time by a body of water, or in a bit of nature. All of those things remind us of the larger, more profound, ancient natural rhythms. They remind us that we’re part of natural systems much more powerful than any little device.

Darlings, today reconnect to those systems. Breathe deeply. Relax, my cherry pies, relax! Aspire to transcend the overwhelm.

You are blessed and holy and contain resource beyond measure.

Every Monday, I offer a Meditation for Queer Femmes in the spirit of my maternal grandmother, Mimi, who was fabulous, kind, and wise and from whom I inherited her Meditations for Women.

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”)