Textual constipation

Lying in bed one night the other week, an idea for a blog post hit me in a most inconvenient way. The kind of way that made it difficult not to get up and write it right then. But it was already about midnight and I didn’t want to fuck up my sleeping pattern even more, so I just stayed in bed, trying to keep my eyes closed. Every so often they’d spring open rebelliously, when another reason it was such a necessary post for me to write exploded through my synapses.

I didn’t write it then, and I haven’t written it since. It’s going to be a long one, it’s going to take some time, and it’s going to demand I pay attention to it and give myself to it fully. I have a couple of asignments already taking up that allotment of time and energy, so I’ve just been holding it ever since.

Is it a coincidence that my blog has become non-daily since that night?

Yes, I’ve been busy. And more than I’ve been busy I’ve been anxious about how much more busy I should be, which is a poor quality headspace to be in. But I think my decision to hold onto that idea until such a time as I can ‘do it justice‘ has made anything I write in between seem optional.

This is the first major blog hurdle of this iteration. I’m interested to see if I recover.

The price of bad tools

A couple of weeks ago, after years of thinking about it, I finally got a good microphone. I’d ordered it weeks before, when I realised I have both the surplus money and enough uses for it to call it an investment, and was waiting for it to come into stock.

By the time it arrived, I was busy with other things. It sat in its unopened package, and each time I passed it, I felt guilty for buying it and wondered if I should just send it back.

At long last, this weekend, I tested it out a little, and was deeply, viscerally satisfied by the fidelity. I’ve been using shit mics for a long time. I welcomed it into the family.

With some trepidation, I recorded myself singing a song. I was expecting to listen back with a mild cringe as it picked up all the flaws in my unconditioned voice, but instead I listened with a look of consternation.

I sounded good. And it was dawning on me that, if I’d bought this mic years ago, when I’d started thinking about it, I would have spent a lot more of that time singing. Because, if that’s what my neighbours hear, I don’t feel bad about it. Because that voice could do justice to the songs I’ve written. Because the recording sounded like what I hear when I sing, so I’m not delusional.

I have suffered from a supreme lack of confidence in my singing ability, which has hampered me in a multitude of ways since childhood. I finally thought I had reconciled myself by coming to the understanding that I’m an okay singer, and that’s good enough. Turns out, though, I could have had a better story.

I should have called that microphone an investment from the start. But I didn’t know better.

Chocolate chip entropy

I do best with a diet which excludes dairy, soya and oats. If I provide myself with that, other things pretty much fall into place. If I do not provide myself with that, all things tend toward entropy.

I think it was Brian Cox I once heard talking about how living organisms are essentially agents of entropy, catalysing the Universe’s descent, paradoxically, due to the necessity of staving off entropy within themselves. Maybe I should think about how I’m killing the Universe in my own minute way the next time I want to waste a week of my life on some chocolate chip cookies or something.

Because the annoying thing about me is that, even though I know very well by this point that there is a clear and meaningful difference between who I am when I’m eating the right things and who I am when I’m eating the wrong things, I still keep feeling the need to just…test it. Or, if something really fucks me off, it still seems like a good idea to bury my sorrows in some junk food that I conveniently didn’t check the label of.

That’s why I’ve been splashing around in the mud much more than I should have been these past few weeks. Things got emotional and I decided, despite all the well-worn tools and techniques available to me, that I would eat my feelings about once a week, and then spend the rest of the week regretting it not quite enough to stop me doing it all over again.

I’ve spent most of my life feeling pretty shitty, so it’s easy for me to forget what feeling good is like. But every time I get back on track I think why the fuck would I do that to myself? …and then I do.

In my defense, I think there’s a bit of a pendulum effect going on, and the swing is gradually decreasing. Getting better is a strange thing. Maybe this is just how I have to do it.

What to do?

I have been lost in nebulous theory lately.

The theory of what is happening right now. The theory of what needs to be done. The theory of what I need to do.

I work best with concrete to-do lists. And to formulate those, I need space and time set aside to gather myself, sort out the tangle, and organise it into neat actionable words. So overwhelming have these past few weeks been, that I have instead defaulted to whirlwind scrawl on every scrap of paper that passes me by. I’m saving countless Facebook posts, YouTube videos, Instagram screenshots, websites, books and podcasts for later with little to no thought for indexing. I’ve been hoping that I’ll settle down soon, without any kind of plan for how that will happen.

I’ve been lost because my goals cannot yet be fully defined. And so, like everything else, my metrics remain theoretical. I have been taking action; grabbing at things when the moment arises, and sometimes even spending time seeking out the action. But without the distilled knowledge of theory, action is weak.

I need to keep visiting the Theory Nebula. My work is most certainly not done there. But the part I have been missing recently – the disconnect – has been organising what I’ve learned into something I can use.

To-do lists are basically self-care for me. I need to get on that.

A quick regroup

I ran out of steam today. I feel like I need a break from the screen I can’t seem to put away, more than anything. In these times of lockdown, especially, everything important seems to be on a screen. Right alongside everything damaging.

The bounds of the screen are comfortable for me. Even so, I’ve been having uncomfortable experiences in that space of late.

I was lucky that I started doing the inner work required to embrace the Black Lives Matter movement fully a couple of months ago. It wasn’t deliberate really, but the journey of personal growth and healing took me there. Four or five years ago, I think I would have reacted like many of the people frustrating me now. In between then and now, I was so lost in the moment of my own tumult that my reaction would have been anyone’s guess. But when this wave crested, it made complete sense to me, and I didn’t have to fight it.

I got to get right with myself in private, after putting down a good foundation of resiliency and facing a lot of deep and relevant fears. I didn’t have to get called out at my most fragile. I got to learn in silence, and I didn’t get thrown into a situation where I felt I had to speak up about something I really knew nothing about.

But still, I am new to the movement. I actually don’t know what to do, exactly. It wasn’t until the beginning of this year that I started feeling able to turn my focus outward, after an intense period of inward journeying, and find ways to be of service. And I thought I was going to do that by volunteering with Samaritans and singing with people suffering from dementia. Not by becoming an anti-racist activist. So while I was well primed for this moment, I was not well prepared.

So my discomfort comes mostly from trying to figure out how to embody the activist my soul is so ready to be. As I navigate clumsy conversations with other white people, where I feel like I’m being simultaneously too lenient and too harsh, and I wonder if the effort is having any impact, I am getting just tired enough to start doubting myself. I have been giving my energy away to worrying whether I’m handling things the right way, or how I could have handled things better, or whether I should have even bothered trying.

It’s not serious, but it used up my fuel reserves today, and I need to regroup. Or just sleep. And then I need to get a bit more disciplined about the things I pay attention to, and the way I deal with my bloody fucking notifications.