Leaving Some in the Tank

The one time you're glad you still have gas

Amethysta Herrick
Amethysta Herrick
The car of Ami's dreams - image by the author via Midjourney

Over the past week, I feel I entered a manic period. I am sleeping less, but I have a sense of energy that surprises me.

On Sunday morning, I knew I wanted to meditate, write in my journal, touch up my hair color, and begin updating a presentation for this coming weekend. I also needed to plan for a new exercise regimen my wife and I began, and the small business I am growing could always use love.

There are so many activities I wish I could complete that I always feel badly about sitting still. As my wife cooked us breakfast on Sunday, I hoped maybe I could knock something - anything - off my list in the meantime.

But I didn't have enough time for any of my important tasks. Instead, I immediately began to reach for my phone to do...what? Frankly, I didn't know.

What I probably would have done was scroll some social network. It wouldn't matter which, because what I wanted - what I needed - was activity or a reasonable facsimile thereof.

I could feel the difficulty of sitting still. This manic energy has me thinking I should start ten new projects.

But the truth is this level of energy is not “a surplus.” It is only “more energy than I've had in the past few weeks.” Maybe months. Possibly...years.

We're going to need a bigger tank

No, I've felt this energetic more recently. At the end of 2022, my writing output was tremendous.

But was I truly energized? If I know myself at all, I was more likely hepped up about my future as a writer and burning myself at 150% as opposed to using the time and energy I had wisely.

Thinking back, maybe that explains feeling exhausted by the holiday season and into 2023. Every chance I rest enough to build up a reserve, I run that energy right back out again until I fail physically.

On the surface, the answer seems obvious: build up a bigger reserve. Certainly the new exercise and diet plan could work wonders in that regard. As the logic goes: I may burn myself out short-term, but I will be better off in the long-term.

Unfortunately, this fallacy is common thinking in my life and career: sacrifice short-term comfort for long-term happiness. And a good question to ask myself is:

How's that working out for you, Ami?

The clear answer is: not very well. It has never worked well.

But Western society does much to encourage this behavior. Keep your eyes on the prize. You'll sleep when you're dead. Pain is weakness leaving our bodies.

This mindset is untrue, and I have a beautiful example in pursuit of sustained efforts, not intermittent breakdowns: my gender-affirming hormone therapy.

My body's schedule is right on time

From the day I started hormone therapy to today, my body has clearly and obviously changed. I look back two years ago and literally have difficulty recognizing the face I see, the voice I hear, the behavior, the expressions, the posture...the whole person.

So much has changed for the better. The contrast over two years is less than I hoped, more than I expected, and better than I ever could have believed. My body continues to respond to gentle hormone treatment (all within current WPATH guidelines, of course) and today, I look at The Reflection in the mirror and see only Amethysta.

But I saw only Amethysta three months ago, too. Six months, even. When did I stop perceiving the old man and start perceiving the new woman?

The truth is: I don't know.

Obviously, there was a threshold I crossed, but I can't even define the measure with a value to surpass. The changes are obvious over a span of two years. If I look at changes over two weeks, the results are far less dramatic.

My body teaches me a simple lesson, but a valuable one: no matter the speed I drive, as long as I stay on the road, I will make it home.

The burden of NOW

My life in 2024 is consumed by planning, ideating, contemplating, and rebranding the small business I created in 2023. Frankly, I want to be finished now. Like - RIGHT NOW.

I believe if I finish now, it will somehow be better than finishing later. What would be better? How much is later? To me, the answer isn't important. Only the finish line is important.

So I sit here, writing these words on a Sunday morning, thinking about all the activities I "should" be doing right now, and feeling a sense of overwhelm. There are many things to do, ad infinitum.

How will I do them all? How will I make the Universe better? When will I be finished, able to look back and pat myself on the back for a job well done?

The truth is: never.

I won't be finished for lack of trying - that much is clear. But I will never finish because sustaining our lives is a sustained effort (hence the use of "sustained," no doubt). It doesn't end, and it won't get easier, because as we grow stronger, we take on greater challenges.

When will we have time to care for ourselves?

My friend Bill once made a very profound statement about software development. Perhaps he heard it from somebody else; I don't know. When faced with an impossible deadline that allegedly mandated lower quality, he asked his manager:

If we don't have time to do the job right today, when will we have time?

His manager had no answer and no time or inclination to consider one.

Because again, the truth is: never.

The strange thing is...I think I'm beginning to find that truth a bit beautiful.

This week's offering is a bit philosophical, a bit slim on cogitation, sophistry, and intellectualization, and overall, less than I hoped to offer. But it's also a peek into Ami's Head, which is precisely what I always want to offer.

I have so many things I could do today, and I will honor the amount of time I have, the amount of energy I have, and commit to stay on the road. That way, I will be able to offer another look into my head next week as opposed to crying into my pillow, leaving mascara stains as a stark reminder of my failure to care for myself.

Hm. That sounds nice, actually.


Amethysta Herrick

Ami is a transgender woman dedicated to exploring identity and gender. She is Editor-in-Chief of Purplepaw Publications, LLC.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the offical policy or position of Purplepaw Publications, LLC. Please view the Disclaimer page for further information.