I used to have the complexion of your standard bit of old printer paper–not quite deathly white but close. I made a habit of seeing light only from screens and the cold comfort of fluorescent grocery store freezer aisles. It got to the point during grad school where people–strangers or friends–would tell me I looked terrible, and I’d just nod a bit because there’s a point past denial and even acceptance in which you just don’t recognize or care that you’re a person anymore. I spent a lot of time there.
In contrast, yesterday I fell asleep in the sun on a long flat rock by a river after eating blackberries I spent the morning picking. I’ve gone from the poster child of self destruction to some kind of hybrid between a college English instructor and an actual live-in-the woods brews-shit-in-a-cauldron witch. I’m perfectly ok with that.
Something I’ve been thinking about lately is how that I wish I could have been this content and open to vitamin D a few months ago. I’ve also begun to recognize how impossible that would have been. Sitting next to a river with a belly full of berries and wishing for problems and sources of stress that have long-since passed to have not mattered while they were very real is like sitting safe in a charred kitchen wishing you hadn’t worried about a grease fire that you had put out only moments ago. Yeah, it’d be nice if we could recognize that problems will resolve and stressful things may pass, but we still have to do stuff to get that done, and stress and panic and shitty health and translucent skin all contributed to getting my shit done and putting out fires.
I’m glad that I can spend an early morning walking through the woods, sticking my face in clear cold water, politely asking bees not to kill me, and glowering at a fisherman trudging through some bushes I had worked hard not to disrupt. I’m glad I can sit somewhere and look at fish drifting through the water just doing their own thing while a train whistles through the trees nearby. And I’m glad I got my work done, and I’m lucky the rough parts actually ended because it doesn’t always work like that.
But instead of doing work I don’t like or decaying in rooms with synthetic light, I can be outside and look at trees and flowers and a pleasantly running river. Taking a moment to recognize the contrast between my life now and my life a few years ago tells me something nice: I’d really rather not go back to all that. I want to look at plants and acknowledge that my skin is allowed to take on a marginally more healthy hue.
Now, I’m going to go pick more berries and indulge in more rock naps for the good of future me who will most certainly one day be stressed and depressed and need some good memories to rely on.