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March 1st. A new month and a beautiful, sun-soaked morning in London. I awoke with the ideas from last night swimming around in my mind. Iíve had a very subdued month, trips to Norwich and the island notwithstanding, but this month is going to be different. The theme for this month will be, quite simply, doing different things and doing things differently. There are times when oneís focus should be narrowed to achieve a specific goal but right now I need to diversify. Spring beckons and with it the need to have some fun. And so, life! Be in it!
Variety. Thatís the theme Iíve chosen for this month. After much thought, both on the front and back boiler, thatís the theme that popped up fully formed as I set off to work this morning. Variety. Given that so much of my life is ruled by dull routine (much of it of my own creation I might add) itís going to be an interesting exercise to explore it. Iím such a creature of habit. I hate to admit it, but itís true. I suspect Iím going to be running up against a few hurdles as I explore the theme further.
Chatting to Ben on Skype, I see so much of my younger self in him and his infectious enthusiasm as he approaches his 30th year with a whole new outlook and set of opportunities before him. As with all my family, our shared time is the exception rather than the rule but the pleasure that it generates is mutually appreciated and shared. In many respects my 30s were my richest decade to date. So much happened! So much change, so much growth, against a backdrop of increasing confidence and sense of self. He has it all before him. Lucky bastard!
Re-thinking and reinterpreting Chagall. I like the idea and the process of reworking a classic work of art. Some people might scoff but in my mind itís akin to reciting a poem or performing a play or a piano recital. Why should art be any different? I enjoy the process. Today, listening To Maria Muldaurís ďSweet HarmonyĒ album, newly re-acquired from Napster after years of fruitless searching, and mapping out the new painting, I thought to myself, yes, this is good. This is engaging. This is fun. And hey! What more justification does one need to do a painting? None.
Iím beginning to feel the buzz again. With any new group of kids it takes time to get to become acquainted and to establish the trust and create the necessary conditions whereby they start to let you in and let themselves emerge. Itís then that the real growth kicks in and that in turn is when the buzz returns. And what a buzz it is! Itís akin to planting seedlings and waiting until they start to sprout leaves and the beginnings of flowers or fruit. And like with seedlings, it takes time for things to grow and move towards fruition.
It was one of my better ideas. Sharing the train home from work, you lost in the new album by The Arcade Fire, me scrambling to get my lesson evaluations written and out of the way, I suggested a quick beer. You needed no persuasion and within minutes we were in the Princess of Wales where we proceeded to share the dayís events and catch up on gossip. Two pints later we re-emerged and went our separate ways feeling refreshed and suitably disengaged from our work personas, ready to enjoy our respective evenings with another dayís work comfortably behind us.
My once fortnightly special needs role had me feeling immobilised this morning. There was so much to do and so little time! I found myself floundering, not knowing where to begin. If I could work offsite it wouldnít be so bad but the work that needs doing necessitates access to files that have to be accessed onsite. In the face of that, I got a grip and ploughed into the work and by the time I left the building Iíd demolished a mountain of work and, while so much still remains to be done, the mountain is smaller by half.
Sitting in Cafť Nero at the end of another long day, sipping coffee, gazing out at the people rushing home, Corinne Bailey Rae crooning in the background. Around me people are scattered at tables and on couches and chairs. Some chat, some read, others call friends on their mobile or tap away at their laptops. Itís a good place to sit and think, write and de-stress before heading back upstairs again. I like living in the heart of London. Everything is on the doorstep. Sure, sometimes I hunger for the calm of the country but essentially Iím a city boy.
People sometimes reveal more than they intend to; a depth of feeling previously unacknowledged, or a betrayal of affection where previously none was perceived. And then there are those revelations less desirable but no less revealing, the kind in which something becomes apparent is such a way that any illusions we may have cherished or harboured suddenly seem hollow; harmful even. The implications can be damning and can cause one to seek immediate refuge in denial, distraction and/or routine. We are left with the discomforting question; what do I do now? Do I choose denial, delusion or cold blooded acknowledgement?
Thereís something innately relaxing about feeding squirrels. We wandered down to the secluded garden this afternoon. Like me, youíd never noticed it before, nor the winding path where the squirrels appear from their hiding places to gingerly snatch nuts from your fingers. Itís the standing still and being unthreatening which serves to still the mind and put us back in touch with something precious as little paws momentarily grip our big paws and snatch the food away. It was good to see how you softened and relaxed, delighting in that childlike state of wonder that we so often deny ourselves.
So what is there to write about today? Not much, really. Itís been one of those task-driven days in which Iíve derived a certain satisfaction from getting things crossed off the list, but at a much deeper level an insidious sense of dissatisfaction with so much in life is lurking. Why is it that we spend so much of our lives being busy? Or should I say I? At times it feels like Iíve compromised so much of my life away, and to what end; for what reason? Does the answer simply come down to a profound lack of imagination?
The sense of the lacklustre continues. Get up, go to work, spend the day spinning and juggling plates, hope they donít come crashing down, sweep them up when they do, up and down those 70 steps a dozen times or more each day, grab a few pages to read commuting there and back. It gets tiring, especially on days when the muse sleeps in and doesnít turn up for duty, leaving me feeling drained and vulnerable. It doesnít show on the outside. Professionalism kicks in. But like the saying goes, some days are diamonds. And others? Yeah, say no more.
Perhaps I should just face the fact that I live a very ordinary life. Sure, I live in a major world capital, and when I go back to Oz each year it probably seems a bit exotic to the uninitiated, this living in London lark. But the truth is, I lead a very predictable and uneventful life. I make resolutions and plans, lists and the like in the vague hope that I might suddenly find myself living that other, imagined existence where life is fast and racy and full of excitement. But the truth is, my life is pretty dull.
It was a weird dream. I think I was in India. I had no legs and I was walking on stilts. I found myself in a courtyard hugging two enormous, feathered birds. I was worried because Iíd become separated from someone and didnít know how I was going to find them again in such a foreign place. Itís odd how we invent people in our dreams. Who was it? No one from my waking state. Do they exist? Is it possible that I somehow connected with a part of someone elsewhere on the planet? And what about those giant birds?
Crook again! This is the third time in a little over a month! Itís really beginning to piss me off! I never normally get sick. Iím the guy whoís left standing while everyone around me moans and groans about the headaches, the flu, the plague or whatever. Yet here I am feeling crap but going in to work nonetheless because if I donít, who the hellís going to do my job? Itís not like a big, mainstream school. There is no slack. If Iím out itís hell for the others. Call me a martyr but I just canít do it.
Itís been nearly a year since his father died. Heís come a long way since then and I wish he was going to be with us for the anniversary but he wonít be. Itís time to go back. Heíll be missed. Weíll be missed. But life moves on. It was good to have the opportunity to talk about it with him. We traded stories about what it feels like to lose a father. He was honest, eloquent even, in the things he chose to share. Heís a fine lad. His father would have been proud of the progress heís made.
Once again, dark thoughts lurk beneath the surface. Once again, the physical impacts upon the mental and emotional. There is a neutrality I should be rebelling against; a sense of lack I ought to be addressing. When did it begin? Is it a process, an event or simply an anti-climax, a petering out? Why am I surrendering to it? Am I surrendering to it? And what is it exactly? I keep telling myself itís only temporary, a seasonal thing. The thing is, itís proving to be a very long season. And what worries me is thereís no change in sight.
Why is it that when I have a task that absolutely has to be done but which I resent having to do, however unreasonably, I can spin time out endlessly with avoidance techniques that serve no other purpose than to prolong the misery of having to eventually tackle the task and, more importantly, complete it? And once completed, (which it still is not), how often do I stop and ask myself why I procrastinated for such a ridiculous amount of time over something that, when I finally did get around to doing it, really wasnít so terrible after all? Doh!
Iím in a strange place right now. On the surface, everything appears to be ticking along as it should, but deeper down there is deep-seated irresolution and itís not healthy. Essentially, Iím bored. I keep thinking to myself that I ought to be able to snap out of it; shake it off. But I donít. I let things slide. Instead, I opt for easy options. Itís like I canít drum up the energy or the enthusiasm. So I stay mired in inertia, broken from time to time by half-hearted attempts at distraction which, of late, donít seem to be working.
Was it listening to Lou Rhodes on the train to work this morning, or perhaps collecting my first ever pair of designer prescription glasses this afternoon? Maybe it was watching ďThe DepartedĒ this evening, or being given the ridiculously onerous additional workload for tomorrow. Then again, I did get all my reports finished and I made a good start on Murakamiís ďKafka on the ShoreĒ. Whatever it was, something shifted today. Something changed. Iíve been in a strange frame of mind of late but at some point today the fog lifted. Just like that! And then the sun came out.
Reading the interview with Joni Mitchell in this monthís issue of ďThe WordĒ and then listening to an interview with her on the BBC2 website, I feel somehow confirmed, warmed and reassured. Few artists have affected me as much and in so many ways over such an extended period of my life. The thought of her forthcoming album, five years after the dismay of reading that she never intended to record another album of new material is indeed cause for celebration. Just knowing that sheís out there on the planet still really serves to bring me strength, comfort and solace.
Today is the first day in my life that Iíve worn varifocal glasses. Iíve been told it takes a while to get used to them and Iím determined to do so, but it does feel strange. Itís the narrow width of focus that I find disconcerting, having to move my head instead of my eyes to bring things into focus. They free me up at work but they also have their limitations. Theyíre crap for sitting at the computer for any length of time and reading is also a bit of a challenge. Still, Iíve got them now, thatís that.
We said farewell to some of the kids at the Centre today. Some will be returning next term but for others today was their last day. Iíll miss them. My Thursday/Friday tutor group has been one of the most likeable Iíve ever worked with. Something really special emerged between them. As we waved them off at the end of the day poor Hayley was inconsolable. Theyíve come so far in such a short period of time. How theyíll fare back in mainstream remains to be seen. Well, one would hope. And so, a chapter closes and another one begins.
Itís a beautiful chair, the kind you sit in and donít want to get out of. Iíve no doubt that itís going to be very much appreciated in its new home. In its place weíre putting the old Loewe television so that we can put the new one in its place in the lounge. But until the new one arrives, thereís this new empty space in the bedroom. Living as we do in such a small place where every nook and cranny last something stuffed into, behind, underneath or on top of it, a new space is something to behold.
At last, daylight saving begins. Actually, I donít think thatís what they call it in this country. I suspect thatís the Aussie in me coming out. Still, no matter the terminology. All that matters is that itís approaching 7:30pm and itís still light outside, even if not enough to write by without the aid of a lamp. The long summer nights beckon and I feel a lightness of spirit creeping in that bodes well. There are evening walks to look forward to, strolls through the park down by the river listening to music on the iPod, feeling good about life.
Itís the little things that make me think, fuck everything! I mean, weíre so fundamentally different in so many ways, so whatís the attraction? What keeps us at it? What keeps you at it? There are times when I wonder what might have been. (Donít we all!) So much of my life seems to have been spent around control freaks. Whatís the attraction? More to the point, what is their attraction to me? You accuse me of so many misdemeanors, as though my mind is somehow predisposed towards pissing you off. As if I havenít got better things to do!
Awake and up at 5:45am. An hour spent on Sophieís statement application, then the train through the smoggy, sunny London morning listening to Ben Taylor on the iPod. Three lessons spent with Sheree in student support, then back to the Centre to work more on Sophieís application. Bjork on the way home. More time spent working on the application this evening, then cooking with Michael Franks and dinner spent watching ďLife on MarsĒ. Still feeling unwell. Half an hour of ď2010Ē. Funny how they never anticipated the internet. Helen Mirren looking so young, so convincingly Russian. Such was my day.
One of the things I enjoy about my job is the variety. Because of the way our unit is set up I get to work in a meaningful way with a lot of different people both young and old. I get to see people really making an effort. I get to be a part of their development and growth. In the process I myself get to grow and change. There are days when I become anxious about choices not made or resolutions not maintained. Then there are others like today when I get to appreciate just how fortunate I am.
Early morning, sitting on the train that will take me to a school Iíve not visited before. Iím feeling good. I have one slayed dragon behind me and the other remaining one seems somehow less onerous now. At least the weight of procrastination and denial has been laid to rest. Iím feeling more positive again, with a lightness of spirit that has been evading me of late. The onset of spring certainly helps, coupled with the prospect of two weeks off work to take stock of things, disengage for a while and simply relax. Yes, I believe Iím myself again.
I was able to get so much done today! By the time I left the building I was feeling much lighter than I have done for some time. I now have two full weeks all to myself to do as I please. No doubt there will be plenty to fill my time with but for a little while at least I can turn my attention away from work and focus on other things. Itís been a hard slog just lately and Iíve been to some pretty dark places in my mind. Now all I want to do is chill out.
Another month gone. Itís now a quarter of the way through the year. Time keeps passing; we all get older; things change. Sometimes this thinking aloud business gets to be tedious. All just so much naval gazing. This was supposed to be the month of Variety. As it turned out it was much like any other month. Nothing remarkable happened. I started on a high, sank low a few times both physically and mentally, and now seem to be back on an even keel again. Ah well, I guess thatís pretty much the way life is. For me at least.
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