Running out of steam
“Keep a little fire burning; however small, however hidden.” ― Cormac McCarthy, The Road
If you’re lucky, you can get off the treadmill.
Chances are, though, you’re still wired from the week.
These days, we’re asked to work harder and harder. In pursuit of what?
In any event, wasn’t technology supposed to free us from the tyranny of work?
If I can offer a word of advice, it’s to make time for you. An hour or two completely to yourself. Of course, you might already have designed life this way, but what I’m inviting is a space to do nothing — or as little as possible.
If you must do something save perhaps read the paper or a book, buy yourself an A5 size notebook and with your favourite pen or pencil, write down what’s on your mind. Don’t edit. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar. Just write.
I don’t expect you to undertake this for two hours but, certainly, long enough to expunge from your system those thoughts that keep going round and round your head.
Hopefully, if you’re willing, regularly, to do this (on more than just Saturday), you’ll soon discover, as I’ve done over the last decade, how useful it is to settle your mind, and see deeper into your chattering, inner critic.
To be clear, there’s no outturn to this process. It’s just writing down whatever comes to the surface. There’s no need of a To Do list or action plan. It’s just you, a pen/pencil and a piece of paper. If it lasts 5 minutes, fine; equally, if it lasts an hour, that’s fine too.
Please don’t show what you write to anyone. This is your sacred space. It’s good, once in a while, to review what you’ve written but, actually, there’s no need.
Anyhow, enjoy your day. Remember, as hackneyed as it sounds, it won’t come again.
PS. Below is a favourite poem of mine from Mary Oliver.
In the afternoon I watched
the she-bear; she was looking
for the secret bin of sweetness –
honey, that the bees store
in the trees’ soft caves.
Black block of gloom, she climbed down
tree after tree and shuffled on
through the woods. And then
she found it! The honey-house deep
as heartwood, and dipped into it
among the swarming bees – honey and comb
she lipped and tongued and scooped out
in her black nails, until
maybe she grew full, or sleepy, or maybe
a little drunk, and sticky
down the rugs of her arms,
and began to hum and sway.
I saw her let go of the branches,
I saw her lift her honeyed muzzle
into the leaves, and her thick arms,
as though she would fly –
an enormous bee
all sweetness and wings –
down into the meadows, the perfections
of honeysuckle and roses and clover –
to float and sleep in the sheer nets
swaying from flower to flower
day after shining day.