There’s a sense of fatigue behind my eyes that I’ve not been able to shake for days. Maybe it is caused by the dark of the season. The chill that clutches tight to the world. Maybe my body seeks to conserve energy, storing it against the winter frosts. Maybe I’m fighting off a cold, my strength sapped as my body fights an unseen enemy.

Or maybe it’s because I keep staying up late, watching stims and painting models, eating into my downtime; eating into the sleep-quota. Who could possibly know.

I returned to an old hobby last year. Something I had found as a teenager, I now revisit as an adult. My interest in it never waned, but as I pursued my corporate career that part of me had become boxed away, unheeded.

A friend sensed this, and when I was at my worst, early last year, she gifted me a set of models and paints. She challenged me to paint them, to show her that I could. She said I needed it, and she was right. It was a good challenge, and not long after I moved out of my cramped, shared quarters in central, taking my life our of its holding pastern, I configured the new hab to allow a space to paint.

Once I had quit alcohol, I started to paint properly. I revisited the old skills; working brushes, paint and the models in my fingers. It has been a rewarding, focused, and calming hobby to pursue again. Meditative, in some ways. I’ve noticed fine motor skills improving, a shake that existed in my hands has disappeared. I swear my near-eyesight has strengthened, too, though I’m not sure that is even possible.

Age has bought patience. That, or the lack of a social life has afforded it. But I find myself able to concentrate with a level of precision I don’t recall having in my youth. The results are proving pretty special, even when I look through my most self-critical of eyes.

It’s not a cheap hobby, but it is one that engages my desire to be creative, along with my story-teller’s imagination.

So as I sit in the hab, letting the world outside do its thing, I paint. I take breaks, and I scan the social feed, viewing pictures of holidays, or unsubtle calls for attention, and then I return to the desk and I paint. I judge myself by my own standard of happiness, not the standards of the career-focused or the socialites. I find myself coming along okay, in those moments, and am able to ignore the other holes in my life.

I find a sense of peace, for a while, disregarding the pressures and creeping approach of the next day’s work, the clothes to be cleaned, the bills to be paid, and the endless needs of adult life.

It is a retreat, but a pleasantly productive one.

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