I’ve popped some coffee-house jazz onto spotify, reminding me of Christmastime, Christmastime in Japan in particular, maybe, or being home and relaxed and warm and cold at the same time and all that joy. It reminds me of being thin too. Is that a weird thing to call to mind? I mean, the past 7 Christmases or so I’ve been fat, but it’s like my brain ignores all that and goes straight to where it wants to go.
Anyway, the relaxed jazzy images are all a bit of a lie. It’s creeping up on 8:15 and I’ve a 9:00am start that I’m not at all prepared for. I got so used to lazy mornings that I’m not able for the old rush. I just spent half an hour getting breakfast for everyone. I don’t have a time budget for that. I just forgot. I thought “Oh this is loads earlier than I got up yesterday” and now all spare time has leeched out of the morning and I am not even sure if I’ve enough to be sitting here typing these very words.
But I need to do it all the same because I need coffee and I need pause. The difference this morning might be (and maybe this difference is something healthy, something that I’ll carry through to future days) I’m not going to push myself to 750 words if my coffee is finished or my time gets too spare.
750 words came from the website 750words.com (which is a fantastic website and one I recommend to everyone who would like to write more frequently) which in turn came from The Artist’s Way – a book I was first gifted at the age of 23 by an ex-boyfriend who at one point held significant weight, but now doesn’t anymore and I don’t know when that changed. Anyway, Julia Cameron – the author of The Artist’s Way – recommends that 3 pages of long hand writing or typing each morning (called “Morning Pages”) are a good conduit to creativity and unblocking whatever shit has piled up in your brain that might be blocking you from the rest of the day.
I don’t know if there’s any scientific back-up to her claims, but the anecdotal evidence is strong. And so, while any writing at all appears to be beneficial, I do tend to strive for at least 750 of words, even though a natural stopping point may have occurred earlier. I have no issue if I go over that, but under has seemed unacceptable to me.
All the same, I worry that – like with so many things I do that are ostensibly healthy – the thing itself becomes the goal, rather than the effects it’s having.
Here’s how I picture myself at the moment – in my writings, in my daily living, in my use of positive (and less and less so negative) coping mechanisms:
I’m standing in a wilderness of scrub-land: thorns, brambles, trees, thickly scented leaves and dirt. I can barely see through. But, in the distance, stretching and winding through far away hills, I can just about make out glimpses of a path. And I can see where that path is due to end. There is no way for me to get to the end point other than by getting to the path, but it’s going to be hard – there’s no clear access through the bushes and scraping thorns. But I’m willing and brave, so I start to batter down the thorns around me. I stomp them down. I get scraped, but I push on through. I make a flattened circle about twice my own width. I push on, widening my circle, more scrapes now, but less frequent – as the circle gets wider I’m more able to avoid the worst of it. I can be strategic in what I attack and how I approach things. I’m getting tired, but I’m willing to fight on, widening and widening my circle. But now, I’m not even looking at the path in the distance any more – I’m focused on the immediate thorny problems surrounding me. Maybe even appropriately.
Eventually I get things wide enough that I have a kind of a comfortable clearing. Big enough to set up a small camp in. Big enough to have maybe a tent and a campfire and a life.
But what about the path and the end-goal in the distance?
But what about rest?
It’s been really hard and difficult to get this far and I’m no longer immediately touching off of thorns and discomfort.
I could live here. Why shouldn’t I? Getting to the path is going to be even more and more difficult and more scrapey work than I’ve already done.
But if I don’t get to the path, I’ll never get to the goal.