If we were to travel back thirty years, I would have been daily banging my fingers on the typewriter keys making a click, clickety click as the type bars struck the inky ribbon and left their imprint of blackened letters onto a white sheet of paper. And when the words in my mind refused to flow, I could rip the sheet of paper out with a forceful and resounding whoosh of the roller, scrunch it up between my hands with fury and hurl it into the waste paper basket across the room.
In today’s modern computer-abundant world, just holding down the delete key doesn’t give that same painfully exquisite release of frustration. It’s a shame really. Of course I could simply throw the iPad at the window or indeed the nearest person, but somehow the repercussions of that would most likely not be proportional to my momentary frustration.
So, I continue to write, edit, rewrite and drive myself mad with trying to create something that is, in my mind, not perfection, but the very best I can do. After all, isn’t that what we should do … our very best?
Any tips or suggesstions for getting through over the last hurdle?
Some would say categorically not. They have a disease, it’s a part of their makeup (genetic or otherwise) and they have no control over it.
Others might argue that yes, how we feel is our choice. We have a mind of our own and we can control it (using various methods).
It is also often debated whether depressive thoughts are addictive, in the same way that substances like alcohol, or behaviours like gambling are addictive. And when we are not using these substances or behaviours we feel out of control largely because in a (self-destructive) way the familiarity gives us an element of comfort. In a similar vein, it is often noted that women (and men for that matter) in unhealthy relationships are mimicking those they had with their parents in childhood. It might not be healthy, but it is familiar.
So, if using by these theories, we fight the urge to believe that we have no control over our minds and we fight the urge to fall back into the dark, warm but comfortable well of depression, ( Read my post on Depression – A Multi-Pronged Attack ) can we overcome it?
My view, for what it’s worth, is yes. But it’s no walk in the park.
It’s curious how whilst I was cycling through France last summer, I had never been so happy or so at peace. Perhaps it was something to do with … the daily exercise (ok it was a brutal 60 – 90 kms a day); being in the sunshine (yup, it hit 41 degrees); a challenge each and every moment (wait til the book comes out, then you’ll understand); social interaction (albeit mostly in a different language apart from on meeting one couple who when I exclaimed how delighted I was that they were English, they replied, “Nah! We’re from Birmingham.” Right; No alcohol, but gallons of water and my weight in croissants; No toxic people to be around and no social media …. And so on and so forth.
Yes, all those things that we’re supposed to do daily to help ourselves (granted, perhaps not in quite such an extreme form), nevertheless, whilst I’m not suggesting that anyone heads off for a 1200 km cycle ride, it’s funny how happy one can be with just a bicycle a tent and the winding road ahead.
So what do you think? Depending of course on the severity of the anxiety or depression, do you believe we actually have a choice to be happy?
Should those words even be permitted in the same sentence together? Some might think not.
Yesterday I took my (almost) 21 year old son to three shops. He coped admirably in Sephora (a beauty emporium to any understandably baffled male or otherwise readers). In a nutshell, when asked at the entrance if we needed assistance, I whipped out my phone, showed a screenshot of what I wanted and boom! We were in and out in less than four minutes. Now that’s a good shopping experience according to him.
Second shop – J Crew for women … even I was bored; uninspiring and rather ordinary clothes with disproportionate price tags. There was also a sale consisting of a couple of rails of crumpled, make-up stained unwanted items, many of which were on the floor being trampled on. I love a bargain like the best of us, but .. So with my son ambling behind me and despite trying to make the occasional positive remark, we lasted rather less than four minutes.
Final shop – J Crew for men … ‘Jacob’ came to our assistance with a friendly manner and a rather natty scarf tied around his neck. Good looking shirts, shorts, trousers all laid out neatly, no fuss, no noise, no mess and and yes, even a sale. And with Jacob folding and refolding everything within his sight, there was order. What more could we ask for? In less than ten minutes we left with a fab pair of shoes, big smiles all round and a joyous Jacob.
How does this happen?
It has been known to take me weeks to find the perfect pair of shoes. And yet, perhaps therein lies the problem. Am I seeking a form of perfection that most probably doesn’t exist?
Should the thrill of a bargain override this need for perfection? Does order and presentation really matter that much?
Dare I suggest that we, the fairer sex, can spend days trawling the shops, searching endlessly with a picture in our minds of a particular article of clothing? Will we ever find it? Or do we actually enjoy the trawling process?
And finally, if we believe that perfectly beautiful clothes will make us equally perfectly beautiful, do men have that same perfectionist gene? Or do they have more realistic expectations?
Shopping is, I find, a frustrating but occasionally necessary pastime. I have no answers except that I clearly need a Jacob to iron out the creases in my life and clothes, and perhaps occasionally I can borrow his rather natty little scarf. It’s really rather perfectly lovely.
If you have any, please give me some solutions … I have too many unanswered questions here!
To travel and to explore surely encourages one’s mind to expand and to stretch out the personal boundaries of one’s self. I’d like to think so.
It has been several weeks since I moved to New York and I fear I have neglected any writing both on WordPress but also on the book. So after a metaphorical whipping I am back on the sofa tap, tapping my fingers and urging the grey matter to shake off the cobwebs. Ah, but I sit here and there is such a view, so I simply gaze and gaze.
We are high up in a building where light floods in through floor to ceiling windows giving views to the west and north. The Hudson River is a constant moving body of water with boats and cruise ships travelling up and down. Beyond the river, cars and trucks can be seen in miniature over in New Jersey and below, people rush around doing their daily business; all busy, all with purpose. Fire trucks and ambulances scream their sirens every few minutes; horns are blaring, there is shouting, laughing, arguing. A glimpse of the green trees of Central Park gives a little respite to the hard angular surroundings. The buildings, the glass, the steel, the concrete, the brick; the beautiful, the ugly, the noise, the chaos. And I gaze and gaze ….
I explore daily and osmosis is forcing an absorption of the sights, sounds and smells. It is inescapable and dirty, exhausting and so very noisy. But it is also exhilarating and liberating. Anonymity is freeing and here nobody pays any attention. Anything goes.
So I shall continue to explore and absorb, but will now find a little balance in my day and write and tell you all about it (if you can bear it!). The book also is toddling along but now with renewed vigour and the desire to find the light at the end of the tunnel. But in the meantime, the river is an absolute mill pond today and there are three small sailing boats barely moving across the water and the sun is just catching their sails in the light …
I made the mistake yesterday whilst on the underground, of asking the Colonel what he was thinking about.
He looked instantly baffled and faintly like a bunny in the headlights. Once again I think that history was paying him a visit and he thought it was a trick question. It wasn’t. I was simply curious as to how and why someone could remain completely silent for the amount of time it took to get from Baker Street to Notting Hill Gate.
‘Really,’ I grinned, nodding encouragingly, ‘What were you really thinking about for soooo long? I don’t mind if it was about the lady with the big boobies over there,’ I whispered.
‘I hadn’t noticed’ he said sanctimoniously but with a twitch of a grin. I laughed.
‘In actual fact’, he said, (he never uses normal words like ‘actually’) ‘In actual fact, I was wondering about the advert up there’ and he pointed towards one of the advertisements set in a neat row above the tube maps in our carriage. It was a drab and dreary looking picture. He carried on solemnly, ‘It’s for a new business card which apparently is being voted rather highly by Which magazine’.
I paused, it now being my turn to feel baffled. ‘Seriously?’ I asked. ‘That’s what you were thinking about?’ He nodded.
‘Crikey,’ I sighed. ‘No wonder you get so much more done in a day than I do. Shall I tell you what I was thinking?’ I carried on without waiting for an answer. ‘By the way, you do realise you didn’t say a word for at least four stops, and we had to change platforms?’ I confess this might have come out in a faintly accusatory tone.
He was starting to look a little bewildered; indeed, as though looking at the lady with the big boobies might have been a better option.
‘I too was looking at the adverts,’ I said importantly. ‘That one,’ I said and pointed to an advertisement containing a picture of a simple white bowl which was filled, indeed heaped rather artistically with peas.
‘However, I don’t know what mine is actually advertising because that isn’t important to me. But,’ I held up my finger to point out the crucial part was to follow, ‘But, I was wondering if I was to take one of the peas from the bottom of the pile, whether they would all have fallen out. And then,’ I started giggling oblivious to his bemused expression, ‘And then,’ I carried on, ‘I started thinking how funny it would be if all the peas fell out of the advert and onto the lady with the big boobies, down her cleavage even, and then into our carriage, until there were peas everywhere! Imagine it!’
By now I was laughing uproariously. My hands were clasped together in delight and I fear I was receiving a few quizzical looks from nearby strangers.
The Colonel peered closely at me whilst scrunching up his nose. He pushed up his glasses with one solitary finger and frowned. ‘Help me God,’ he muttered and started shaking his head. He then opened up the newspaper.
I sighed, my bubble momentarily burst. But seconds later, I rummaged in my handbag for two pencils and then opened up my own copy of The Standard. I silently handed one pencil to him and we glanced at each other, slowly both beginning to smirk and then, in an undignified scramble raced to find the crossword at the back of the newspaper to see who could finish it first.
Do you think it matters if you’re like chalk and cheese?
I love to write. I need to write. So why have I allowed a diddy little move across the pond to take precedence over writing this week?
All I need is just a couple of hours each day to sit and tap, tappety tap. A bit of editing, a little rewriting. Simple. And yet tiny doubts have been creeping to the forefront of my mind. Doubts are clever little blighters. They ensnare and suffocate any lingering fragments of confidence. Will the book ever be good enough? And then the inevitable happens; procrastination claws its way in and takes a firm hold.
There is always another box to be packed (despite an army of packers due next week), or the need to ponder for far too long over whether I need my wellington boots in New York City; or whether I should take some sachets of bread sauce mix for when I can’t be bothered to make it from scratch. Important decisions you see. Oh, I have no doubt of my ability to procrastinate! I have honed my skills over decades; frankly I could have a Masters with distinction in procrastination.
I believe a little discipline is required in Mrs Colonel’s house. A sharp rapping of the knuckles and the occasional poke with a pointy stick.
I am not a lounge lizard who wanders around the sitting room mid-afternoon still wearing pyjamas. I do not shuffle around the kitchen in Donald Duck slippers and a matching onesie as I peer bleary-eyed into the fridge at noon. I go to bed early and get up early. I love mornings and am annoyingly bouncy from the moment I see the light creeping through the gaps in the curtains. I must be hell to live with.
But my point is this … we all have the same 24 hours in a day and we all choose to use it differently. And I have been lazy for the past week and have not set aside a couple of hours a day to write. I have not (and never will) be seen wandering around in the Donald Duck slippers and matching onesie, but without the structure of writing daily, I may as well have been. Just wait a moment whilst I bludgeon myself to death …
To be fair, I have been overhauling my relative’s garden for the last several days, but that’s besides the point …
Poignant Pause …
Excellent! Knuckles have been duly rapped and a pointy stick has metaphorically poked me. I have given myself a little talking to and told you, my wonderful WordPress friends of my failings. I am now a new woman and ready to do some more editing and re-writes … Quick cup of tea first though, it’s still early …
I am officially old. Frankly, the fact that jet lag took me a week to recover from is a pretty clear indication that, yes, I am old. I obviously also suffer from first world problems so forgive me if you can.
When I was a young and carefree twenty something, we would party all night and still manage to go to work the next day. We simply giggled our way through the day on happy memories of the night before, cans of coke and black coffee. Now, if I manage to stay awake until ten o’clock, I’m doing well. ‘Tis a sad state of affairs.
Yesterday on the train, I was not just an old woman, but a grumpy old woman.
“Why do they say twice at every single station, ‘Mind the gap’?” I snapped at my husband.
“I mean really,” I continued, warming to my theme, “How many people have actually fallen down the gap between the train and the platform. I’ve never seen even one!”
He peered at me over his glasses, looking a little baffled and worried as to whether or not this was one of those test questions, like “How much do you love me?” (Just for your information, this is a test question and in order to avoid divorce, the answer should be … “I love you more than the best pint of beer in the best pub with the best supermodel talking about the best Formula One cars.” This would be a perfect answer.)
“See!” I said, “Nobody has ever fallen down the gap!”
“Perhaps they haven’t fallen because they constantly remind us not to.” He replied carefully.
“Pah!” I snorted. “I’d like to test your theory. Are you honestly saying that if they didn’t say “Please Mind the Gap” in that mind-numbingly dull voice, then we’d see a plethora of people wedged side by side hanging between the train and the platform all wailing to be rescued with their arms waving?”
By now I was not only belligerent, but completely beyond all reason, so husband dearest twitched his nose and took it upon himself to find the newspaper rather interesting. In his mind, this too was clearly a test … discovering when it is best to keep quiet rather than to instigate World War III. Some times it really must be hard being a man.