This week of being on holiday has been a bit of an eye-opener for me (I could just as easily have written disappointment, but I’m trying to take a positive approach). I had planned to do so much, inc writing 40k words on The Mortality Code; fixing up some solar-powered outdoor lights; putting down a load of pebbles under and round the shed where many of the books we had in storage are still shivering in the cold and damp; tidying up the office; moving my vinyl from bedroom to office; etc etc. This morning, I realise that these impossible goals are just a manifestation of my impatience, as is my constant railing against a world that I perceive doesn’t hear my voice.
The feeling of time running out that I have written about before, this week mutated into the sense that time had actually run out. That’s not because it has (although Meat Loaf’s death, and other deaths, put into perspective my still living), but because these innumerable tasks/goals I had set myself (and seem to set myself most of the time) crowded out any other thoughts in my head and just made me feel anxious and useless. If I had any shred of rationality in my head, I would have seen and accepted from the very beginning that I’d given myself something impossible to achieve. The week has left me even more tired than a week in which I would have been at work. As always, M has tried to get me to keep my feet on the ground, but she knows as well as I do that her calm pragmatic approach doesn’t always have its desired effect on me.
But I have to realise I can only do what I can do. The inability to compartmentalise is not necessarily a failing; it’s just the sign of an overactive mind where left and right constantly mingle to occasionally spark greatness. What I need to realise is that I just have to let them get on with, and that I can’t force ceaseless action on them or myself.
T, my sister, is now in Melbourne to see her first granddaughter. She wrote me a long message last night (that didn’t show up on my phone till this morning) which was very touching and kind, and, if I read it correctly (my mind can often be very slow on the uptake and believing and comprehension), my daily scribbles on here are helping her understand herself better. We are both very restless and self-critical people, though I always think she is better at harnessing that restlessness than I am. If this helps anyone else understand themselves better, then that has to be a good thing.
Yesterday afternoon I walked over 6 miles. Before my walk, as usual, I really didn’t want to go, but once I was out there, I embraced it, exploring yet more new roads round Norwich, some of them even more deprived and run down than the ones I’d walked through on Wednesday. What depresses me is that although comfort and build quality have improved since the 16th century, most of the households in those streets – and countless similar ones in towns and cities throughout the UK – will right now be having to make a choice between heating and food, that they don’t have the luxury I have of being able to have both. I had visions of them watching me out of their front windows and commenting on the bloke in the red fleece who obviously has nothing better to do than wander round the streets of Norwich looking in through windows when there are people in there freezing or starving, and desperate for work and food and warmth. Even if that latter vision might be due to my overactive imagination, the despair of those below the breadline in this country is very real. There is a void at the centre of this country – a government which neither cares for, nor cares to help, the poor, the needy, the ill.
It’s in this context I believe that all art (writing, music, painting etc etc) has to be political, that all art is political. If, philosophically, there is no meaning to life, in reality (as opposed to philosophy) there is still meaning to living.
Ren Powell22nd January 2022 at 10:23
is there an option for getting these in my inbox every day?
tettig201922nd January 2022 at 10:34
Will try to work out if I can set that up when I’ve finished doing radio – live on http://www.radiostradbroke.co.uk right now 🙂
Beth22nd January 2022 at 15:42
What helps me is knowing someone else struggles with the same things, tries to write them down. For me, a lot of the self-criticism and self-flogging toward “achievement” is just my ego, and when I remember that, it helps me let go and enjoy the observation of whatever *is*. But that has never been enough for me, so I realize I’ll always try to make something out of those thoughts, observations, emotions. Where I’m not sure I agree with you is that all art must be political. WE must be political, we must see the poverty and injustice and try to do something about it. But art is also about beauty and hopefulness, and survival of our spirit needs these things too. As creative people, we have to find ways, I think, to hold those two polarities together, both in our person, and in our art. When I was doing a lot of community organizing in a disadvantaged place where I used to live in the US, we asked people what they wanted most in their community. And, to my surprise, the answer wasn’t always economic – a majority of the people said “More flowers.”
tettig201922nd January 2022 at 16:54
That’s really helpful. It’s good to know I’m not on my own.
Larry23rd January 2022 at 04:27
Never underestimate the importance of the journey.
Richard Pierce23rd January 2022 at 09:35
It is an unending journey 🙂