Thursday 16 October 2008

When you stop

What happens when you stop?, I’d been wondering, and thinking: nothing good - and it wasn’t. Yesterday was TOIL (who invented that bloody acronym?), and I slept and walked and cried and slept a lot more, twelve, fifteen hours, with needy, disturbing dreams. Cathartic, I suppose, but wretched.

Working like this, I plod on, losing myself in work, losing myself in expanding flesh (that horrible Spanish expression, entrada en carnes - encased in meat), the small spark of self threatening to be squeezed and squeezed until it snuffs out. I wonder why I mind so much, since I can’t but view this ‘self’ as a cumulative disaster. But I do, I do.

Lately, on the bus, I’ve been reading books about the brain, about neurological damage (Oliver Sacks: Musicophilia; Claire Morrall: The Language of Others), reading with a chill of recognition and wondering if some of my deficits are neurological as well as psychological (does it matter?). Painful thoughts, but the will not to be snuffed out is strong for all that.

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In brief periods of wakefulness yesterday, I was glad to have read two excellent and very different blog posts from Zen Habits and from Via Negativa, for Blog Action Day on Poverty.


Dale said...

Oh Jean, dear, do take care.


Zhoen said...

Oh, I'm sure much of our distress is based in neurology - stunted or twisted early in life, the curve swirls through our span of years. Giving us a different perspective, an eccentric orbit. Adjusting this to the world around us is painful and interesting together.

I find this comforting, that it's not all my fault, nor under my full control, all I can do is swing with it. Perfection is not achievable, so at some point after doing all I can, I let go.

Beth said...

Oh Jean, love to you.

I just left a comment on Dave's post about this same topic. Not working so much these days is affecting me strangely; I had no idea my identity was as bound up in being paid for my work and doing a lot of it, since I complained about it for so many years! Not being as pressured, and having to be self-directed for long stretches of time, have allowed anxieties and identity questions to surface, often uncomfortably. I do think some of this is neurological; it certainly varies among individuals; I'm incapable of "doing nothing" for very long and feeling happy about it, while for some people that would be paradise! But just as you'd tell me not to be so hard on myself, I can only mirror that back at you, and reaffirm how much I value your intelligence and sensitivity and self-awareness which I know have come at a difficult price. And it's so important to allow yourself to just rest.

Jean said...

Ah, Beth, well, I suppose my prejudices would have it that you're suffering in a worthy cause (finding your real self), while I am suffering in a deeply unworthy one (burying my 'self' in overwork). Whether this distinction is more important, in the end, than the unarguable fact that an awful lot of human life is suffering - well, the honest answer is that I don't know. Interesting, though, isn't it?

Rosie said...

Jean, I feel for you.
I have recently been living a transition between having time to consider my life and do creative things , to being inundated by the pressure of the every day need to get out there and graft. I know which I preferred - even though there were times of depression which came from introspection and there are periods of satisfaction when I perform my new jobs well...
Perhaps someone would like to leave me a small private income!

YourFireAnt said...

It IS a dumb acronym. In USA we call it "comp time".

Take care of yourself. Listen to all those friends here.


Anonymous said...

Hard to associate 'disaster'
with anyone who writes like you,
Jean. You write like an angel

Michael McC