The good news is that you’re the pilot. Right?
I’m sitting in my local greasy spoon, eating an ‘all day breakfast’ and reading the colour supplement I found on the counter. Some person is a writer. She is working on her second book; her first is being made into a Hollywood movie. She was born in 1990.
I was at business school. I was 26. Same age she is now. I was a child. And really, what have I done since? In her whole lifetime? Bit of work, but mostly been a stay at home mum. You know, sitting at home wiping bottoms, kissing knees better, making fish fingers, picking up from school, reading bedtime stories, intervening in squabbles. Supporting my husband in his demanding career. Nothing more. And, then for a few years, barely surviving, dealing not very well with various traumas. And lately? Nothing.
One of the others on the career shifting course recently posted about a new business idea, which as far as I can tell is some kind of physical diary plus.
She said: In my one woman bid to reframe how we see and speak about time, the lack, the glut, the loss, the gain, and everything in between, I became hyper aware of the yearly task that takes place across the country. The task: throwing away used/ out of date/ no longer needed diaries and calendars, in preparation for the new year’s blank version. This annual cull got me thinking about the literal wasting of time.
Wasting time. Past, present and future. I realise I have spent far too much time looking forward or back, and in both cases with fear. Worrying about things I have said or done and whether I have offended somebody, or fucked up my life, or whatever. Worrying about what is going to happen in the future, and the extent and ways in which I will fuck that up, too. My ex (bless him) used to call this ‘wishing your life away’. Well, even a stopped clock, as they say, is right twice a day.
I’ve got better about living in fear of future and past, honestly. I have. (I had to – I was really crackers). What I seem to have got worse at, however, is getting anything done in the present. And so the sum total of all of my presents doesn’t amount to much. I am wasting time. I am wasting my life. I think I am just lazy. But I don’t think of that as presenting a solution. Just as one of my friends told me (about overeating) that she thinks it’s just greed. I agree! But why? I don’t think that the answer stops with greed and laziness. There is some element of self-sabotage at work, and I would like to understand it. It’s a trope of the self-help industry: ‘what are you getting out of it?’
Reminds me of that quote by JK Rowling: It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all — in which case, you fail by default.*
Failing by default is what I am doing. And somewhere also in there is a link to the idea that holding onto resentment (another of my faults) is hurting me and not the other. What with one thing and another I don’t seem to be treating myself very well. What is going on here?
I have wandered off the topic of time. And wasted more of it. I have so many things that appear higher on my to do list than this, or than the checking of FB and making of tea which has interspersed the writing of this little post.
*If you only know of JK Rowling as the author of the Harry Potter books, do watch her commencement speech. (Her tweets during the US election were also worthwhile.) I wish I’d had her give mine. Maybe I would have remembered some of it. I got my degree from Supermac, then aged 92. I can’t tell you what he said. I expect, like the rest of the ceremony, it may all have been in Latin.
Image: this is the sign behind the counter in my local greasy spoon. The man who works there is a taciturn old git, which makes the sign kind of sad, I think.