Waiting for the shoe

I ran again this evening – I’d mapped out a 1.6 mile loop from my house and I did that and a bit extra and then I walked to the shop. I took it easy, because I don’t know how to run properly, I know most people don’t run every day, and it especially doesn’t seem to be recommended for beginners, but I’m starting to feel like I’m doing this wrong.

Honestly, when I promised to run every day I kind of expected to be resorting to five minutes on my mini trampoline, and of course there’s plenty of time for that yet, but the run (or rather what I imagine was in fact a very slow jog) tonight wasn’t nearly as taxing as I was preparing myself for. It was more of a light stretch. Which calls into question, well, a lot of things, actually.

I was expecting this to be hard already. I was expecting not to be able to run a mile in the first place. I was expecting today to be worse than yesterday. I was expecting this to suck a bit. And it doesn’t. A lot of my body is aching, and the idea of skipping the run this evening was quite appealing. But then I put my leggings on and I got fucking excited. And I wrapped my cheapy earphone wires around my neck to stop them falling out en route and that was me fucking sorted. Bloody lovely. There were no knee niggles or toe woes, everything was fucking fine again. I’m getting suspicious.

Am I being too conservative? Do I need to go faster, or further? Or, on the contrary, am I being too gung ho and will I suddenly, unsuspectingly, be flung into a pit of misery after a couple more days of this, because, no, I shouldn’t be running every day?

…OrrrrrAm I actually doing something right?

What a dangerous fucking thought.

Holding hands

I try to live my life believing that if I do what feels, to me, like the right thing, something good will come of it. It may be invisible, it may be tangential, but it will be; something, somewhere.

That’s not the kind of thing a human like me will ever be able to prove. And it’s not even the kind of thing a human like me can always remember to believe. But it’s a choice I try to make.

One thing that felt right for me to do was to train as a Reiki practitioner. That decision changed the trajectory of my life to the extent that it’s pointless to speculate on whether it was good or bad.

But one specific thing that happened not long after I finished my certification was that my grandad had a stroke.

I got a call from my mother after the last of my night-shifts at a job I’d just quit and she said I should probably come, so I did. He died in the night not long after I arrived, but I got to see him before he left.

And because I’d just done my Reiki certification, I felt empowered to do some Reiki on him. Now, Reiki is Reiki, it’s neither here nor there in this story, because regardless of whether Reiki did anything for my grandad, the important part was that to do the Reiki, I placed my hands on him. I held his hand in one hand, and placed my other hand on his arm. And this felt totally alien to me, and a little bit silly. Because we never really touched in my family. And if I hadn’t become a Reiki practitioner, I probably would never have been bold enough to touch my grandad on his deathbed. And what else can you do, really, to comfort a dying man who’s lost the ability to move or to communicate, whose mind is swimming in chaos as his synapses drown in blood?

My family in the room commented that he seemed to be responding to the Reiki. Maybe he was. Or maybe he was responding to something far less esoteric.

I was watching Me Before You the other night, and a scene where one character is holding another character’s hand in the hospital triggered this memory to bubble up. Because of course they were. Of course that’s what you do. Of course it is a basic human need and a basic human response in scary, sad and perilous times to physically reach for each other.

I wasn’t there for a lot of my grandad’s last days. I didn’t see how the rest of my family behaved in that time. Maybe I missed the parts where they held him or stroked his hair. But what if I didn’t? What if, aside from all the utilitarian stuff, that was pretty much all he got?

I fucking love touching people. It’s probably my favourite love language. But it just wasn’t done in our family. So, watching Me Before You, I had the terrible thought, what if that was all he got?

And what if, trapped in his reeling, disorganised brain, that was the only thing that reached him? What if, lonely, frightened and confused, what he needed more than anything was for someone to hold his hand?

It’s probably best not to wonder. But I’m glad I learned how to do Reiki.

Manifesting cars

The car I own is a dark grey 2009 Volvo C30 1.6 DRIVe. I don’t know if that’s a confession or a weird flex.

I like cars. I know fuck all about them if we’re being candid, but what I lack in knowledge I make up for in enthusiasm based upon, frankly, arbitrary points of interest.

Part of the reason I know I like cars is that some of them kind of turn me on a bit. Not quite to this extent, I hasten to add. But appealing aesthetics are a…driving factor. If a car catches my eye, I then take it upon myself to research it with a heavy confirmation bias, to find out all the other reasons I like it.

As far as aspirational cars go, a C30 isn’t exactly top of my list these days. When I bought my C30 I was lusting after a Toyota C-HR hybrid. That’s since been replaced in my fantasies by a Polestar 2.

BUT, when the C30 came out, back when I was 16, every time I spotted one it was a cheap thrill. Even now, the lines of that era of Volvo make my pupils dilate. Seeing Robert Pattinson driving my favourite car in Twilight may well have been the spark that ignited a passionate crush I stand by to this day, because Robert Pattinson is spectacular. I’ve written him two fan letters. But I digress.

Edward Cullen’s C30 inspired me to head to the Volvo website to design my own. Colour? No question, dark grey was my favourite colour for anything. Engine? I had no fucking clue of the implications…but I liked the environment so, naturally, I chose the ‘eco’ option – the 1.6 DRIVe. The year was 2009.

Did you ever hear Noel Edmunds going on about cosmic ordering? I did, around about that time. From what I remember it’s a basic Law of Attraction type concept. You just had to make your wish, and wait for it to be granted. There was this website where you could type in your ‘order’, and when you submitted it, it added a virtual star to a virtual sky. I enjoyed that idea. It’s quite likely a C30 made it into my virtual sky, although I can’t corroborate the claim.

When it came to buying a car this time around, I was having difficulty. It had been a minute since I was last in the market, and my affiliation with diesel was now frowned upon. And my budget wasn’t exactly expansive. At first, I’d been excited to buy a sexy high-miles Volvo diesel estate. Which is a preposterous statement if ever I wrote one. But my son’s dad sucked all the fun out of it with his talk of air pollution. So then I looked at all the reasonable petrol alternatives, and none of them aroused me at all. I went round and round in circles trying to land on an acceptable compromise, until I didn’t want a car anymore.

But I needed a car.

I was so tired of car shopping, I wished I could just have a car delivered to my door and not have to think about it anymore. Dejected, I made a deal with the Universe – either deliver me a car that I can be really excited about owning this weekend, or I’ll cave and buy a Honda Jazz or something, just to be done with it.

Enter The C30. The exact car my 19 year old self had ‘ordered’. Low enough emissions that I could live with indulging my guilty diesel pleasure for one last hurrah. Nearly 140,000 miles on the clock so it felt worldly (I’m not kidding that was a selling point for me). Delivered to my fucking door.

Why do I tell this story? Because it emerged into my consciousness as I was taking a walk today. And it was such a peculiar culmination of disparate threads, a bunch of which I haven’t even mentioned, that it invokes a healthy questioning of reality. And I want to make sure I remember it.

Truth tellers

I’ve been watching a lot of stand up comedy lately; mostly to pacify my building anxiety about the masters thesis I’m procrastinating, and maybe a little bit so I didn’t just get my 3 year old a Netflix subscription. If I cancelled his subscription and spent that time working instead I’d probably be a much more functional human being right now, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about.

Maybe I should have been a comedian. I like attention, I’m pretty good at regurgitating my own words a hundred times over and not really getting bored of the sound of it, and I’m even pretty funny provided you give me a few months to prepare.

I’ve never actually even remotely considered the possibility of a career in comedy (if we discount this right now), primarily because I’m so terrible at improv. I often come up with hilarious ideas during conversation and proceed to convey them in the most bland, tone deaf way one could possibly imagine. And everyone falls silent, looking a bit perplexed. And then, three days later, while sitting on the toilet, I finally craft them into the masterpiece they were always destined to be. And the only one to witness it is the baby slug that has emerged from a crevice near my shower screen to be today’s sacrifice to the toilet gods. Because yes, barring written testimony, I will still be flushing it.

…Not because I care about the testimony, that would just probably demonstrate a level of consciousness I wouldn’t feel comfortable flushing down the toilet.

Maybe I should be conducting more thorough testing of the gastropods that find their way into my bathroom. Just what is the level of consciousness that I do feel comfortable flushing down the toilet?

There’s an idea of comedians as society’s truth-tellers. Because comedy allows us to broach difficult subjects in an accessible way, by relieving the tension of taboo with a punchline. It breaks our defenses so we can let new ideas in. Sometimes. Maybe. Or maybe not. Sometimes, maybe, the tension is relieved too quickly and we get to skirt around the discomfort entirely. Maybe the art of comedy is holding just enough tension to change you, without you actually thinking you’ve been changed. Transformation disguised as entertainment. What delicious subterfuge.

I’m crap at holding tension. I’m an all or nothing kinda gal. I’m either flirting with you with no intent to follow through, or I’m conceding wholeheartedly to make us all feel better. Maybe the art of comedy would be a useful hobby for me.

Polaris

There’s a man walking around out there in the world who is, to some extent, responsible for all the good things that I am today, who I don’t know, who doesn’t know me, who doesn’t want to know me, and who never really even did anything to deserve the dubious honour of being my greatest teacher and guide.

This is the premise of the post that, when I didn’t write it, made my every other post optional.

My favourite author is Haruki Murakami. One of the things that is notable about Murakami’s stories is that the protagonists are not crazy, but when crazy things happen to them they just go with it. They don’t fight it. They don’t agonise over whether they’re going crazy. And they don’t create a load of drama around it either. They sort of acknowledge their unusual situation with an equanimous shrug, and that’s about the extent of it.

Murakami’s characters always kind of gave me hope that the fact that I was…not crazy, but, also, not quite not crazy either…wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

And then, when crazy things finally started happening to me, that hope probably predisposed me to go with them. Until the reality of the situation I had gone with started dawning on me. Because, actually, it does take a full-blown crazy person to go with it when crazy things start happening. So, upon realising that I was, in fact, a full-blown crazy person, I started thrashing. But it was too late; I had made my decision and gone past the point of no return.

The fine line between genius and insanity has long intrigued me. But, in my life, I have often been just courageous enough to find out how much of a coward I really am, and, instinctively, I feel like courage may in fact, at least in my case, be the line between genius and insanity. Because it takes a little bit of courage to pursue your crazy vision, but it takes a whole heart full of courage to hold true to that vision while simultaneously acknowledging the hostile reality surrounding it. And that’s when, if you choose to continue, it becomes devastatingly easy to buffer yourself with clever distortions. At which point you’re swimming in a choppy sea of half-truths and the shore you were heading for could be over there, or it could be over there, or it could be over there, or it could be over there.

This man, who I don’t know, who doesn’t know me, who doesn’t want to know me, for some reason, became my North Star. Not only did his existence tempt me into an ocean that looked cold and scary and objectively dangerous, with the promise of gold on the other side, but it guided me, from quadrillions of miles away, across that ocean. And the gold I found was not the gold I thought I’d find, because I hadn’t escaped the clever distortions, but it was fucking gold nonetheless.

For some reason that I have yet to comprehend, this man, who I don’t know, who doesn’t know me, who doesn’t want to know me, imbued me with the courage that I never thought I had when I looked at him. By orienting myself toward his light, I completed a years-long journey that I would have otherwise torn myself to shreds on after a couple of days. And, at this point, it’s safe to assume that ‘his light’ was illusory – just another clever distortion of my sea of half-truths – but The Light was really fucking there, because if it hadn’t been there, if it hadn’t been constant, if it hadn’t been the ever-fixĂ©d mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken, then I would have been lost.

This man, who I don’t know, who doesn’t know me, who doesn’t want to know me, allowed me to glimpse True Love. And I feel bad that he had to be the one to do that, because it wasn’t a job he signed up for and I don’t think it came without cost to him. I owe him a deep debt of gratitude. And at the same time, I have to acknowledge the fact that he didn’t have any fucking thing to do with it anyway. He was responsible for his own good grace in the face of my agonised thrashing, and for that there is a separate debt of gratitude. But the deep mystery of what transpired for me; the numinosity of those years of pilgrimage – that is a sacred burden that should never be placed on another human being’s shoulders.

You’ll have to forgive me if this blog post leaves you wondering what the hell this madwoman is rambling on about. This is a long thread to pull.