Unbroken path leads back
The way I came while on
Each side the land runs out
To fade in distant haze.
In front of me the void
That last small step of mine.
I don’t remember how
My feet conveyed me here,
Nor any of the turns:
Decisions lost in time.
On setting out the route
Lay wide and arrow-straight
As far as eyes could see;
We walked off hand in hand.
It matters not who first
Slipped from the other’s grip:
We each believed our paths
Led true. The distance grew
Until the day I found
We’d drifted out of touch:
I had never noticed
You straying from my side.
Glimpses offered hope that
Our paths would meet ahead:
I’ll wait for you forever,
Alone here on the edge.
Still here. Just having trouble gathering my thoughts into a shape coherent enough to write lately; makes me wonder if the cracks are showing. Not enough hours in the day, nor enough days in the week to find time to undertake all the outstanding jobs. Ninety degrees weather and I’m snowed under!
There are times when the work piles up faster than I can manage – I’m working flat out and the backlog is growing by the hour. There’s a tipping point – a critical mass – beyond which I start to spend more time thinking about the sheer number of things to do than actually tackling them. I feel overwhelmed – under pressure – and start to panic.
I have found that I have a limit to the number of items I can maintain in my memory – my mental to-do list. If it grows beyond that limit then it is like adding too many apples to a fruit bowl: I put one in and it dislodges one or two that were precariously balanced, so I have to catch them and try to replace them into the bowl. (Akin to what I’d call thrashing in the day job.) My time and effort is spent trying to fit all my apples into my bowl, so to speak, rather than eating them.
Imagine opening a door – not a normal door but a portal to another place, more like Alice’s looking glass. It is door-sized and -shaped – about 2’6″ wide and 6’6″ high – but just stands there like a window hanging in space. All I have to do is walk through it to be instantly transported to a peaceful land of solitude. I stand on the lush green grass, feeling the breeze and listening to the birds, and look back through the portal at the world I have stepped out of. Hang up a “Do not disturb” sign and lock the door. If only it weren’t a fantasy…
An idealized past haunts my waking thoughts; I look back through the haze of distant time to halcyon days of childhood when the weight of responsibility lay less heavy upon my shoulders. But time flows ever on like a river to the sea, carrying me in its currents farther and farther from the tranquility of my source whence I sprang from the earth pure and untainted by the corruption and filth of this world above. Feels like I need a vacation.
PS: Thanks to Terry Pratchett for the title…
Realization recently struck me like a slap in the face from a wet fish – I’ve been far too serious lately and it has been contributing to a morose malaise. The cure? Cast off all sense of grown-up responsibility for a while and just play.
Reveling in immaturity and freedom as I take a short vacation from the gravity of adulthood – it sure sounds attractive. I want to jump in a puddle to make the biggest splash, climb a tree and look out to the horizon, run around and laugh and play. I want to be Huck Finn and run away on an adventure…
Not that I will end up doing any of that – just dreaming. But the other day I did yield to the urge to get away for a spell – irresponsible perhaps, but necessary to restore some peace of mind. I walked along the river path, enjoying the stillness and solitude. It was enjoyable for a while…
..and then I started to encounter people and it spoiled the mood. Gone was my relaxed sense of ease to be replaced by a stiff uneasiness in the presence of strangers.
I took refuge in a place I feel comfortable but although it turned out to be an enjoyable day I couldn’t get time alone to restore some semblance of calm in my mind.
Social situations are a minefield in which the slightest misstep can result in things blowing up in your face. I picture the situation as a narrow path – the “safe” area in terms of what I can say or do – with increasing danger of stepping on a mine – upsetting somebody – the farther I venture from the path.
Since I am risk-averse I do not often test the boundaries of what people find to be acceptable behavior – mapping out the danger area – and when I do, I tend to do so carefully and deliberately in the hope that any negative reaction will be small enough for me to handle.
I find it difficult because different people have wildly different standards of what they deem to be acceptable. Not only that, but the boundaries move depending on context. There is only a small patch of common ground on which the majority of people I encounter socially can agree.
My starting position with somebody I have not met before is to play it very safe – speak when spoken to, no slang or swearing, no physical contact. Over time I will observe how they act towards me and others, and slowly begin to introduce those behaviors that they demonstrate – the assumption here is that they are less likely to be offended by something that they do themselves.
This is not an infallible method. That’s people for you – they’re not always rational, logical or consistent. It can be a case of “do as I say, not as I do” – how confusing! But slowly, gingerly, I can explore the envelope and work out just how far I am able to take things with those I know reasonably well.