A short break: an arm’s length of space

So, as I sit on the plane back home I am thinking. I have spent the whole holiday thinking, thinking, thinking. Unable to sleep for thinking, one night. In fact I realise I spend every available moment, all the time endlessly thinking. Holiday or not. What changes is what I am thinking about. When I am working I think about work: turn the possibilities for this task, that task, this client, that colleague over and over. I minutely analyse everything to do with people and the communication, including my internal communication, I need to do my job.

When not at work at first I am thinking about work still, but in a wider way. On holiday, it seems my thoughts have the freedom to assume different forms. Reflecting on what is not currently working for me at work. Where things might be going more broadly, what the next three, six, twelve months hold. I reflect on how the change of scenery changes the way I think. I consider the boundaries between friendship and love. I consider the mood of a friend, they are quieter than usual despite the prospect of a trip away. Finally I find some peace where the thoughts in my head don’t feel so full of significance and deep meaning. They are just thoughts, after all.

Running means I must concentrate on my corporeality, which is a welcome respite from all the thinking, all the sharp consciousness that permeates my waking, and sometimes sleeping, hours. I rarely remember my dreams and for this I am grateful. I don’t wish to be conscious of the complex calculations I make during the night hours. Keeping track of those from my wakefulness is problematic enough. I realise that my thinking is relentless. It never stops, but sometimes I can keep it at arm’s length and hope this is enough respite.

I talked, the night I couldn’t sleep. Unusually for me I talked of the challenges of society, for once of problems greater than my own. Holiday has given me space to consider more widely, gather my thoughts into a broader narrative that may have significance for more people than just me. These are observations drawn from my intensely personal experience of the world. But after 12 years of adulthood, of quietly watching and observing, of minutely analysing the people, their actions, my reactions and feelings, my own very personal calculations of cost and benefit, I finally have an opinion about the world at large. I weave observations from my philosophy studies, from my failed relationships, from the lives of my parents, from the most hideous parts of my life, from the most glorious parts of my life. I have finally created a narrative that makes sense of enough of it to be considered fit to share with others. Of course, only fragments are shared with others, but I know there is a grand, unifying narrative and that is enough. I can’t see clearly enough to be comfortable with steering a course unless I have a sense of the whole and so it is with telling the stories of my life. Which, I realise is all I’m doing when I share my opinions. Telling the story of my life in multiple, ever refracted and strangely iridescent fragments. Each reflecting a different part of who I am, who I have become and who I choose to be.

Naturally it is all, always, about me. Further, nothing is ever quite as it seems at first because it is always encountered through the lens of your own preoccupations.

My thoughts turn to what is heard as I talk. I guess at the musical quality of my voice, I hope the soothing sound of listening to someone who can talk without making what they share your problem. Possibly the endless whirr of my mental cogs, the gentle relief that comes with sharing with a sympathetic ear some of what keeps them endlessly turning. I guess what I hope most of all can be heard is a space from the listener’s own preoccupations and a chance to hear their own voice sharing thoughts at arms length from the oppressive mass they cannot currently avoid. I smile, hopeful I may be right and hopeful that my meandering self absorption may have bought another some respite.


Conflation & castigation

I’ve been reflecting on things again. [“What?” I hear regular readers of my blog cry, “surely not?! That is so out of character for Louise …” 😉 ]
So anyway, I have been reflecting on things, some might even say I’ve been over-thinking. I attended a Landmark education seminar recently and I walked away deep in thought about something that I learned there. One of the things I took away from the seminar was trying to separate events that have happened in our lives from the interpretation we have made of those events.


I clocked a while ago that one of the interpretations I made about the hurts I suffered that led to the break up of my marriage was that I deserved to be hurt. Somehow, the only way I could rationalise finding myself in the situation I did was to decide I had done something to deserve it. This is absolutely one of the factors that kept me in a failing relationship for so long. I thought I’d dealt with this belief of mine, but as I thought about it on Monday night after attending the seminar I realised I hadn’t laid it to rest as well as I thought.
I still use the mental calculation that when I feel hurt, it must be because I have done something to deserve feeling hurt  to guide decision making about my future. I end up feeling that I am completely irresponsible whenever I end up feeling hurt, the mental calculation going something like this:
I get hurt > I must have done something to deserve being hurt > it is my responsibility to look after myself and avoid being hurt > therefore I have taken irresponsible risks and should have weighed the risk more carefully before acting.
As I read that back, it seems a bit loony even to me (self declared queen of neuroticism!). I am trying to replace this line of reasoning with a more helpful one:
I get hurt > something about what I did or what happened didn’t work very well for me > I will try and learn from what happened to avoid being hurt in the future > I will build this into my risk calculation model for future decisions.
I find 2) a hell of a lot more useful! And it involves a lot less self castigation than 1). It’s a win on all levels! Not that it is easy to implement in practice, but I am determined to work at changing my mental framework until 2) is the default.
Wish me luck with that one! I’ll keep you posted on how it works. There is also another interpretation that I am working on challenging that sounds even more pathetic than this one, so give me a bit of time to work on that one and then I’ll share it with you 🙂
I’ll leave you with my track of the moment: Strange Glue by Catatonia …