But sitting on my stoop for a few hours a day in the summer with a pile of books--just being and observing in between bouts of reading--helps me heal.
I had somewhat of a nervous breakdown immediately after the end of this past school year. I tend to be melancholic and have depressive episodes as a matter of routine, but this was different: I completely lost control of my breath and had panic attacks that lasted hours. But sitting, trying to be present, observing without judgment, and acting like a hermit helps.
Any small connection to the natural world--either through daily hikes in Druid Hill Park, or a couple days at the beach, or a walk in the woods just north of Baltimore, or simply watching the birds in my neighborhood go about their business--is a vital means of re-establishing my sanity before the start of the next school year and the inevitable eventual plunge into madness.
One month of summer break is gone--we've reached the halfway point--and I'm starting to feel like a human being again.
I don't know how long I can continue to do this work. But this work must be done.
I envy my little mourning dove friends. He seeks twigs, he tests them, he chooses those suitable. He flies them to the nest. She stays in the tree forming the twigs and weaving them with the others into a suitable shape. Their work does not stress or appear to tax the birds, though they work continuously through the day.
Somewhere is work of a similar nature, suited to me and my nature. Unfortunately late-model neoliberal capitalism does not value this work.