I woke up in at around 4:30 this morning from a vivid dream of wall-climbing and academia and I couldn’t get back to sleep.
First of all I blamed the dehumidifier – it had stopped running and its white noise generally helps me block out all the tiny noises that irritate me and which I blame for stopping me sleeping. So G. emptied it and it came back on. But still no sleep.
I was tired, and I thought I’d just naturally drift back off, but after half an hour and then a full hour I realised it just wasn’t happening. My brain was filled with ancient thoughts and hopes from years ago. The dream I’d had had opened up an old box of memories and set them running around the place. I was playing catch with them and each one I caught stopped me and sent me running down a tangential path.
Eventually, around 5:30, I put on a body-scanning mindfulness recording. Then I really realised how active my mind was being. Normally within five minutes I’m chilled out and /or asleep. Normally I don’t have a problem bringing my mind into my body and into the present. But last night (this morning?) it was like dealing with an unruly child that’s had too much sugar.
“Become aware of your breath.” (Yeah but what about 6th year maths?)
“Now move your awareness to your fingers.” (I do have fingers! And haven’t used them to draw in ages!)
“Imagine you’re near a peaceful river.” (Swimming lessons!)
“Feel your whole body.” (Has the baby moved recently?)
And on and on, spinning round through nearly the whole 24 minutes of the recording. Somewhere near the end of it I drifted off. Twenty minutes or so after that, twin2 came into the bedroom declaring the time on his clock (seven and then a two and seven) and continued to do so every three to five minutes.
This is how the time leaks out of a morning.
I’m *tired* now. Already. Before the day’s begun. It doesn’t just feel like a lack of sleep tired – although I guess that’s the culprit, right? I feel sick from it and it brings my mood low.
Yesterday afternoon my sister texted me to ask how I’m getting on. I replied that it’s mostly fine except that I’m Friday-tired by Monday. She knew what I meant. And so Tuesday’s difficult, but what kind of shell of myself will I be by Friday?
I know, I know, I’m projecting into the future again. So bring it back to now? Well right now I’m fucking exhausted! I think I’ve enough in me to get through this day. But maybe I don’t. Yesterday after an intense second class I found I was getting dragging pains in my belly. When that happened at the weekend, I took myself off to bed for a lie-down for a few hours. Not such a ready option yesterday.
I slowed down. Is what I did. I stopped worrying about those precious minutes that leak through the cracks of a class and quickly mean you’ve only half the teaching time you thought you had. I stopped pushing. I stopped leaning in.
This is what I’ll have to do over and over in the coming weeks. And it’s going to be repetitive and frustrating as I have to relearn the lesson again and again.
Slow down. Do less. Allow that 10% extra free to go. Work at 90% or less.
Because if I don’t I’ll be off sick and everyone will get 0%.
I give myself too much credit and importance anyway, I reckon. Students and colleagues will manage. Content will be taught, exams will be sat. I am far from the only person in the universe who can do my job. I’m barely the only person in the room that can do my job.
My ego likes to write a narrative that I’m special and I do things differently. Well I’ve no doubt I’m as special as the next individual, and I’m pretty sure I do things somewhat differently, but all the same – that doesn’t necessarily mean the outcomes are all that different.
So here we go. At the end of a long whine – and I feel kind of sorry for those of you who’ve sat through the reading of it. As for me, I actually feel a bit better, like I’ve given myself a bit of a necessary pep talk. Enough to get through one more day in any case. It’s an odd sort of a pep-talk, this “you don’t really matter that much” spiel, but today it’s helpful and I guess that’s what counts.