On Being Bombarded

I wish the calms before the storms would last a little longer. Who am I kidding? I wish such moments would last forever. Spending time in public, for me, has become a double-edged sword. I never know what I’m going to experience: one of those lovely calms I so cherish, or a storm––that feeling of coming under fire, being flanked on all sides by people and their noise.

Today, I experienced one of those calms out at a local coffee shop where I spend much of my time. But that place is often a gamble. If I get there early enough, I can genuinely engage both people and my work. In that sort of space, I can connect easily with others because that kind of calm offers room to talk, to be heard. But slowly that peace, well, it fades as the tide of even more others rolls in. The shop begins to fill up. It becomes busier. And the volume rises. And the pitch intensifies. And I lose my way. I can’t think. And all I want to do is flee. To get away. To reestablish my peace of mind, regardless of however fleeting it has become in recent years.

In this battle, people are bombs going off all around me. Grenades of sound. Explosions of need that I cannot manage in such high doses. And the work: the reading, the writing, the editing––it becomes overwhelming in such moments. It only contributes to the bombardment. So many notes, marks, and comments. Some good, some bad, some.… I don’t even know. I can’t figure them out. I’m shell-shocked. The ringing in my ears––this is my D-Day.

And isn’t it sad? That I’m comparing how I experience my public life to one of the worst military battles in the history of the world. Forgive me.

So, I flee. To the next coffee shop. I’m one of three people in this new space. The music is calming, ambient, hovering in the background. Slightly. A reflection of how I exist, slightly. Whatever the case may be, I feel better. For now.

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