The World & I

Ava Raffel

hardwork | härd wərk |

noun

1 a justification for hell

  • “I’m not crazy… I’m just a hard worker…” mumbled over and over, backed by an internalized promise to self that I was busy, but not overwhelmed; moving fast but not too fast.

2 an indoctrination of agitation

  • I was obsessed with the future. I was planning for the next moment, the next minute, next day, searching for a remedy for how I was possibly going to get everything done. “What’s next, what’s next?” played on a constant loop, steady as my heartbeat, more frantic with each repetition. “To be” was no longer simply to exist; it was to run as if stopping could only end in collapse. 

 

3 a dangerous distraction

  • The introduction of a global pandemic ground my constant movement to a halt. It was like someone had turned off the treadmill with me still running, leaving me in a crumpled ball. Forcibly extracted from my world of constant agitation, I was a fish-out-of-water, gasping for air, asking “what now?”

 

heart-beat |ˈhärtˌbēt |

noun

1 the steady rhythm of the heart

  • A certain anticipatory moment exists between heart beats, a careful jig. Boom; boom; boom. The distance between is not so finite as to be curtailed by a period, though each beat possesses a more definite gap than could be separated by a comma. 

 

2 the regulator of life

  • Vital, yet no more complex than the blink of an eye, the grasp and release of shaking hands, the opening and closing of a jaw. A perfect simplicity, a reliable peace, housed within a 24-bone nest inside me. 

 

hibernation |ˌhībərˈnāSH(ə)n |

noun

1 remaining in a dormant state

  • I suddenly saw myself in an impenetrable bubble. I could still look out at the world from my safe haven, but I didn’t have to keep stretching my bubble out further and further to make more room for what “needed” to enter, what wanted to consume my space, to consume me. 

 

2 a conservation of energy 

  • The solution to a finite amount of time was no longer to magically make more time; it was to just do less, to take a breath, to step back and detach. With nowhere to look except right back at myself, I finally understood I needed to put my hands up and insist, “no more.” It was a rebuilding of barriers, a refinement of self. It was rediscovering a new resting heartbeat.

 

home | hōm |

noun

1 a building used for an extended stay

  • For too long, I remained in a house that was cracking at the seams, the roof leaking, the pipes rusting, with me still inside— unknowingly patching my house, with my math homework in one hand, walking my dog in the other. 

 

2 a safe haven

  • Home is a location for some. We say we feel at home in nature or in the confined cages of our bedrooms, but for me, a place quickly transformed into too many things. The lines got blurred, and suddenly everything became a so-called home: anxiety, agitation, anger, a ticking time bomb gunning for self-destruction. 

 

3 oneself

  • So, what is home to me? It’s me. Being forced to put my life on pause during the pandemic made me consider where I’d been and where I wanted to go; to develop some pride. I finally took the time to stare myself down in the mirror and say: yes this is me, yes I did this, and that thing is a good thing; it’s enough.