Foggy, so foggy.
Easily, happily distracted……and listless.……while I fluff about doing itty bits of information hunting and gathering. Today will not be productive in its usual sense. It will pass me by with guilt accumulating as a by-product of both my vacant headspace and trying to look busy for my Jiminy cricket who knows how much I have to get done.
I roll my eyes as I write “today will be one of those days”. I am often surprised at how rare they are. So many mornings, I expect the worst of days when I wake to the multitude of “To do’s” in my head and yet the hours pass by productively, with gratitude. Thank goodness for that! Those days are a close shave with the doubting self.
My head suddenly feels vacant from trying to cram so much into it. I guess my Zombie-like state is from saying “Yes!” too often to new learning and opportunities. My brain has become a production line of recent orders of ideas and my workers just can’t keep up with putting them in the right boxes. So they stand back dumb-founded as to what to do with the overflow.
I know my limits and my instincts tell me I will be of no significant use to anyone today but to soothe and shush—shush myself. At least I know that is something. It seems to be the least way that I can use my time. But I can tell myself confidently and comfortingly that it is also one of the ways that I only appear to waste my time. What is wasted time, truly? Is it time that, more often than not, one accuses others of, just through witnessing and judging? Escapism and meditation comes in so many forms. If another safely spends endless hours doing something that I can’t see the value in, I try to entertain the possibility that it usefully quells their particular fears and doubts, and that has to be okay with me. Knowing how I seemingly waste my time allows me to give another permission to do the same.
But my story, my history, has shown me the fog always eventually clears to reveal the rock solid pavement leading me towards a momentary destination to plant my feet and shout my closing battle cry of “Enough is enough!” for no-one’s ears but my own. Enough newness, enough learning, enough juggling, enough discomfort, enough anxiety!
The moment is but a moment but it is enough to shift my point of view to one that is more forgiving of my limitations. But I have to keep going just to slot in time to re-evaluate somehow, somewhere.
I live inside my head. Everyone lives inside their head to some extent. I know my story well and that is an understatement. When I make judgements, it is because of my own historical page turner that I load words and actions with associated meanings that no-one else could truly imagine. Because they are not me. And I have to assume the same of others. My head is a jumble of experiences and hopes and to simplify a moment takes some effort. There are so many options for that one moment. But as balance is a word I try to live by, without naively trying to give all my needs and wants the same amount of time and consideration, if I have given much to one option then it is another’s turn for consideration, and that just might be a vacancy I do not need to fill. Just let it be. Don’t unlock the smartphone, don’t hang the washing, don’t try to decide what next. Just waste some time instead.
Smoko used to be a moment to take a break, sit back, (puffing away for some), but essentially looking to the horizon, just quietly considering, stimulated by your immediate environment or what happened last night. Now one just needs to focus a foot away at the smartphone to know what the whole world is considering from one moment to the next. Naval gazing has suddenly taken on a whole new overwhelming meaning.
When the Blackberry phone became a handy organiser, it also became a pest, true to its name. I wondered for some time why it was called a Blackberry. But when it became the constant companion who interrupted any attempt at sitting at a cafe in the company of family, I realised that the invasive pest would only need an up-ended mochaccino to eradicate it as a nuisance. Perhaps the name of Blackberry was meant to be a joke on us. Once it arrives, it is so hard to get rid of.
As I relate to my varied communities and environments and write about it in my own way, I think of all the nuanced conversations I have had. Then I realise that I am aware of tuning in to listen to others speak in their own way. They make marks upon the world in their own way. They sigh in their own way. Ownership of communication and language is a right, an entitlement. It can be a form of creative expression.
I know recording these thoughts in words, not always pictures to support my creative therapy career pathway, will likely make me a better therapist. I want to relate to others in so many possible ways but I need to know myself before I can appreciate the journey a client may feel compelled to take to know themselves intimately – to tell their story and maybe hear it told in their own way for the first time. So I willingly tap into all those parts of myself that do not feel entitled, that are easily shamed, and seem to be holding me back from opportunities to learn and grow. I defiantly reflect those parts back to myself to look the same and yet be viewed so differently – that they are just as valid and gift-giving as they are worthy of ignoring or denying.
Before a “wasteful” day begins, hinted at only by my intuition, I give myself permission to pull out half way through the day. That is the beauty and benefit of always trying to put your best foot forward — there are those few times that you have to lead with the foot that is dragging the dead weight of the unknown and incompetent. You are visibly tripping up, but you are forgiven with an understanding word or two.
I bring the dead weight of doubt with me to every new experience and hope to chip off a small, polished piece to place in my bag of precious jewels —— my learning. The dead weight should become gradually smaller but then there is me who says “Yes” to any opportunity to learn for the sake of growth, and expects to get ever lighter with each step forward. There is yet another who discreetly follows behind to add another blob of Yes to the dead weight without first weighing up the consequences. It does not always work that way. But 6 months into this great endeavour to studiously master myself as a creative therapist on clinical placement, I am still new to the feeling of being out of my depth with too much newness. If I had a client today, I would feel differently. My time would be spent feeling focused, helpful, learn-ed. But today nobody else needs me and so my client is me.
Sometimes, in isolated moments I talk it out quietly aloud with myself. I soothe and reassure. The Nike slogan often comes to mind but I resent its message of lone empowerment. I spend so much quality time coupled with others to help assist them feeling comforted and empowered that Just Do It as a loner seems unfair. So while I crave telling my story to others, I tell mine to myself when I can and I listen well and I understand.
But sometimes I want to tell my story without hiding on a counsellor’s lounge of sentimental fabric with screened windows which stop the world from watching and wondering what troubling secrets are being disclosed to one trained pair of ears.
“I wonder what her problem is?”
Sometimes I need to take the problem outdoors, to see how it interacts with my environments. With sunlight shed upon the issue, perhaps it will become clearer with the fog burning off from the heat and open air. It’s worth a try. Sometimes being closed off in a room somewhere reminds me of being closed off and stuck in my head. Creatively working around my troubles needs to be met with positioning myself in an environment that best suits my nature. But a closed room can have its place too. Diversity is key to trying to tackle one’s troubles with no information on how to do it. That is when safely experimenting with different ways of being could reveal a solution.
Today, I need to hear the words from my mother-self, “It’ll be okay”. It is faith once again that I need to be reminded of, but in the fog, it is easy to doubt where the way forward lies. Which responsibility, what requirement, whose agreement, and how many obligations do I fill and prioritise?
If I get too stuck in my head and heart, my body will do a sit out on the edge of the bed in protest of the inequality.
So much head and heart work is limiting the body work that needs to be attended to. I need to collaborate with my body to see what it is capable of and test its strength. It is the vessel in which I travel so it cannot be neglected if I want to keep moving forward. I know it. It is a thought——an awareness that has been hounding me. Maybe that will fill my wasting time.
So I joined a gym.
The 24/7 access suits my erratic, critical thinking and my full to the brim heart. The body workout is to keep up with the gymnastics going on in my head and chest. With no more productive hours end to end being spent doing tasks I took for granted – digging in the dirt for potatoes, rearranging furniture to find a new perspective, or diy to extend my refuge – instead I choose to go at it beside others who just want to shut the world out in sympathetic company. And so an hour of jogging and walking around a virtual coastline track in front of me on the treadmill screen, works for me.
It is a reminder that the context often comes first. My once scathing criticism of paying for something when one’s active lifestyle should meet their fitness needs, is now put aside because I have become a commuter, a capitalist trainee, a tertiary student, a working Mum, a distracted Wife, a gym junkie, and an ever-willing companion of other people’s troubling stories.
As I jog alongside another being, both of us pretending the other’s rhythm is not impacting on our own, I think about all the precious hours that I spend focusing on a stranger’s story and how best to support and collaborate with them to be the best kind of helper I desire to be. So I jog and think, jog and feel, jog and breath, jog and question, jog and listen, and wonder about my jogging companion’s story. My Helper motor is always idling.
But my anxieties always catch me up and sometimes I jog to run away and knowingly put no distance between me and my worries. I run but I don’t want to leave – that is the arrangement the treadmill and I have – it is that fight or flight response beautifully illustrated and practiced with no amount of running away or putting oneself closer to the source of anxiety.
When the troubles overflow once again and I hold my hands up to my face, weeping like a child, my hands reveal my age, my experience, and my knowing. Maybe my tears are as much about grief of time lost forever as it is worries — having to say goodbye to moments lost to unlearning, sadness, frustration, and doubt. But as I grieve, I also welcome the birth of the unexpected learning, peace, freedom, and self assurance.
…like today may yet become?!