Summer in LA | Letting Go Of What You Don't Need
"I wouldn't call what I just did 'sleep'" I tell my boyfriend, using the thin layer of always-present sweat to lubricate rubbing my tired morning eyes. He prepares the morning's coffee in our individual french presses, and I see him scoop an extra hit of grounds into my pot upon hearing my complaint. I'm relieved to see him do it, even as the thought of drinking something hot repulses me a little.
This is not the sultry sweet California summer of most people's dreams. This is two thirty-somethings who've resorted to schleping the mattress onto our living room where the AC is the strongest, the view of Southern California mountains where I know the air is cooler and crisper laugh at us all night long. Too many nights awake sweating more than sleeping have exhausted me all the more. No, this is as far a cry as you can get from a sticky-hot summer youth, and more of a rude awakening - literally and metaphorically - when not enough sleep isn't something you can brag about anymore. I can't think in this heat. I can't write. And yet I don't have the time to not write, and sacrifice the day's productivity to lounge by the pool. Does anyone actually have time for those pool-filled summers you see on socials? Are those giant inflatable flamingos even comfortable?? What I'd give to just lay by the water for an-all day hit of the 'gram. Instagram, that is.
Summer in LA. And a heatwave has hit. It's a stifling heat. The kind that makes you want to rip your clothes off, but instead I tug at them incessantly, stretching their dampness and misshaping into a direct reflection of the lethargy I feel inside. The kind of heat that makes breathing a little labored, but not in an obvious, east-coast kind of way. Just a slow burn kind of way, hushing the city from coast to mountain in an exhaustive, listless stupor.
I try, I really do. I walk out into the heat, even in the balmy, sticky streets of Downtown LA in the afternoon where I work, and tell myself to hug it right back as I feel the wave wrap around me and pull the sweat out of my brow. I let my hair curl up against the humidity in a sweaty, balled up mess and pretend to be a glistening super model in St Tropez, abandoning any semblance of put-togetherness in favor of carefreeness. I'm not carefree, I'm an anxious woman who works too many hours and needs more sleep. But I'm trying to adapt into carefreeness. I'm trying to let the summer heat burn off my need for a full face of makeup and styled hair and sweat-free joints and body corners.
Like from the heat, I want to hide where I'm comfortable. Inside, with the AC on full blast, feeling safe and where I know who I am and what I'm doing, and where everything - even the temperature - is just how I like it. Like from the heat, I want to hide the work I feel compelled to make from the world; a mix of essay, story, poetry, and visual art. I want to keep you, reader, at safe distance where you can't see my smile lines in photos, and where my posts revolve around a neat set of tips and tricks and gadgets for you to buy. But if you read HerAfter (my former site), you know I've done that already. You know I've already packaged myself into neat lists and it went great, but it's time to take a risk. And repeating what's been done is not what this season, what life asks us to do, especially for a writer who's work centers on revealing personal details, trials, tribulations. So I'll just have to write and be honest, and get comfortable with how uncomfortable I feel. I'll just have to write and film and create whatever my heart feels is natural, and let the fire of creative expression burn off my fear and insecurity.
My work of writing personal essays on the internet require that I'm more honest and vulnerable than I'm natural inclined to do, just as summer asks us to let go of our preferences for seclusion, chill, unnatural temperatures and give in to the necessary heat. The fire. The high temperatures that must burn things off. It's only natural.
To fight the heat in a heatwave is akin to fighting truth.
It can be done. But it's a foolish thing to do, and it's more avoidance than it is fighting, because you can't win. It's like trying to avoid a disaster already playing out, attempting to keep a glass from spilling that's already tipped over, trying to stop from being what or who you truly are in order to be accepted. Fighting and complaining won't make nature it's mind and ways. The palm trees outside my tiny patio wither and wilt, but they don't tell the heat to go away. The just grasp on to whatever breeze they can to get a refreshment now and again, and they don't question the bigger picture of why the heat wave has rolled in. Instead, they roll with the wave, the heat wave.
Where is the essential growth to take place if there is no adaptation? Does the inertia inside us capable of pushing us through change just disappear if we don't release it and experience it? What happens to all that potential inside if we don't adapt and grow through things? As energetic beings, it'd be selfish to curse the heat, declaring my momentary comfort to be more important than mother nature's essential doings in the natural world.
The inevitability of change. The necessity of fire to burn off what is no longer needed - hustling, bustling, getting it all done in a day. And the divine lesson present in respecting something larger than yourself - nature - and it's call for us to relax and do less, need less, ask for less. To not fight against things as they are, oppressive as they may seem, as different from our expectation of 'the perfect summer' as they could possibly be. Instead, to allow ourselves to sit still and be. To allow summer, nature, our lives as a whole to be whatever they are in the present moment. Cooler days will come, and the sun will set on this day eventually, and whatever struggle we find ourselves in will pass in it's time. But what if we were to say that a heatwave is neither good nor bad, neither pleasant nor pleasurable, and instead less comprehensible and definable than these simple terms? What if any period of discontent in our lives is doing greater work behind the scenes for us than we can ever know??
If I can't change the circumstance, what can I change about my perspective of the circumstance?
Instead of seeing it as good or bad, fair or unfair, can I alter my view and approach to whatever is happening as a chance to grow and awaken or become stronger and more capable?
Is it really happening to me, or is it happening and affecting me?
Life is not spiteful. Viewing something as happening 'to me' puts undo pressure on one's self to be responsible for it's outcome or causation. Is whatever struggle you find yourself in happening to you, or is it simply happening? Can you detach yourself from taking it so personally? Better yet, what would it take for you to see it as something life is doing for you to help you grow through it?
Can I relax into this process?
When life's burning fire comes your direction to burn off that which is no longer needed in your relationships, your work, even your health and wellness routines, the answer isn't always to do more. Sometimes it's better to live and let live. Let the fire burn. Let die off and let go of whatever isn't working anymore, whether it's as complicated as a friendship or as simple as a morning routine that no longer makes you happy or fits your needs. Instead of adding and replacing, what if you did nothing, and relaxed into the process of change, allowing life to do the work for you, and burn off the unnecessary to reveal something new to you?
Share your fire..
Your turn. Are you going through something you need to change perspectives on? Is life putting you to the fire to see how much you can evolve and grow? Is it time to let somethings burn off and move on? Share your thoughts on twitter and instagram, and be sure to tag me @rachaelyahne so I can see you.