I can’t promise to get back into blogging in the same way as before, but my absence does bear an explanation. It is a case of ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’. Oftentimes you have to take a few steps backwards before you can start to move forward again.
A journey of self-realisation can be a long one, and all the time you are trying to fulfill the expectations of others while trying to understand who you are and how you fit in. You have a job that seems to be everything you aspire to and a boss that everyone reveres, but it feels as if you are swimming in a current that you fight no matter what direction you chose to turn. You’re a fighter, not one who can sit still. Your response to stress is ‘a change is a good as a rest’ so blogging fills your evenings as a way to switch off after pressured days.
After a while the demands of work pile on more; add to that the pressures of the economic downturn. You take on more, you blog less. You start to understand the currents that challenge you, but putting it right means persuading the boss of change. An open door means ‘come in and talk’ but it does not mean the incumbent will listen. You can see the current taking the whole ship to the rocks while the captain talks of bigger engines. Everyone is in overdrive. Exhaustion sets in. Some vote with their feet, but you carry on. You know you have too much on your plate, but you can’t stop and by now, in your depleted state, change is too much effort. You are like a dog that is howling because it is sitting on a thistle but doesn’t have the will to move.
One day you realise that you can’t carry the thread of something you are reading over a page turn. It happens more and more. Fear. How can you keep doing your job? You want out but can’t afford to walk away. Alternative opportunities are not happening. Lack of contract renewal looms. A black dog sits at the door. He’s been there for ages, but you didn’t realise what he was.
That was two and half years ago.
Once you notice the black dog and he won’t leave, some chemical help seems the only option. One type results in difficulties with sleep and an alternative one does the opposite. You cope. A year wrapped in insulation. People explain problems and you just look at them. You suggest solutions but empathy is a face you wear because it is expected.
Eventually you feel strong enough to step out of the bubble. You know recovery will continue slowly but by now you have the strength to face normal again. Months pass, so far so good. The captain decides to leave. OK.
Now the shipping company decides to ground the ship – she’s outlived her usefulness. A week of sleepless nights. You’re in crisis mode but feel very alive as you lead meetings and continue to meet deadlines. You’ve no choice but to keep going. You’re not the captain, but someone needs to be at the con.
As vacation time looms and you give in to relaxation and exhaustion, the black dog bites at your heels again. This time it is different. You think you can chase him away, but there are times doubt sets in.
One day, swimming, you imagine turning out into the ocean and swimming on until you slip beneath the waves. But your child is with you. You imagine coming back at dawn, leaving your clothes on the beach, but you know you wouldn’t do that. A few days later, leaving the office late, you imagine what blood, your blood, would look like on the carpet. These thoughts shock you. Will he ever leave?
Things change. Plans change. You start to be able to look ahead again. Two weeks later he’s gone. Poof! Just like that!
The ship is placed in dry dock for a refit. You start to build a new crew. You realise that all you learned on your journey – your understanding of the currents – is now valued. It’s still a long way back.
You meet your old captain and you want to say “it wasn’t me it was you”, but, for all that, you know it was you too. You can stand back from yourself and see that you allowed yourself to be pushed well beyond your limits. You did it willingly.
Your life now is like standing before a jigsaw puzzle where two-thirds of the pieces are missing. You can still see what it portrays – the essential parts are there, but the rich detail is missing. You have to decide how much of it you restore. That little bit in the bottom left corner was rich in detail but required a lot of effort. Maybe you can work with a lower resolution, or perhaps a simpler picture composition.
You do more, plan more, achieve more. Your days speed up. You can complete something and look at the clock to find it is still an hour to lunchtime. You have time to look out the window and notice the clouds while you speak on the phone. Weekends belong to your family again. Wonderful.
“Leisure” by W. H. Davies:
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can,
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.