Really, I shouldn't condemn those endlessly rushing people referred to below because, even if I refuse to be pushed to extremes, I'm not so different. I get up in the morning and consult my mental 'to do' list and when I get to work there's a physical list. I quickly scan and reprioritise and then start charging through it, ticking things off - my sole aim to reduce that list. I keep going till it seems like a reasonably acceptable time to stop. Then I slump into a corner, usually with a book, and usually I fall asleep over it. Occasionally I manage to tick off every item on one sub-section of the list. I pause and look around me, scanning my emotions for some sense of completion, vindication. It's never there. What's usually there is a more or less distinct anguish, verging on fear. Sometimes I slump for days in this vague anguish. Eventually I go back to the next sub-section of my list. What else is there?
I tell myself it's like this because my life is particularly lonely and unfulfilled, signally lacking in those basic satisfactions as defined by Freud, with work and love. This is true to some extent. But I see the same compulsive behaviour in those around me, most of whom do have partners and children and some of whom do have interesting, high-status, well-paid jobs, so it isn't the whole truth. A basic motivation for all of us seems to be this compulsive busy-ness, this accumulation and rote fulfilment of duties. The fact that I question it, often and deeply, resolve and sincerely attempt to pause and return to and savour the moment, not just to be driven mindlessly forward: this makes a difference, it does, but only a small one, perhaps.
I scribbled this at 5 in the morning, unable to go back to sleep and gripped by dread, and afterwards did drift off again - always remember dreams when I do that. I was speeding along on one of the new, blue, London rental bikes, leapt off and parked it hurriedly. As I walked away, it fell over and when I came back it had morphed into a toppled mobility scooter, a hunched and groaning old man face-down in the seat. I bent to right it and it morphed back into a bicycle, with a tiny, sobbing child in a baby-seat on the back. As I picked him up and soothed him, I woke up, with a hot spot where his damp, bruised little face had pressed against my chest.