Handling strong emotions is extraordinarily difficult. Trying to keep them under control – rein them in – is like trying to close a suitcase packed with so many clothes that they threaten to burst out from every side.
I am caught in the currents of my feelings, one minute floating calmly and the next being pulled under by the rip tide or whirled around in a maelstrom of despair before sinking down in darkness. The illusion of control lies shattered around me as I huddle fetus-like in the middle of an barren landscape, no feature to break the monotonous emptiness fading to the horizon in every direction. Out here there is only loneliness. No sound. No breeze. Nothing moves, not even me. Yet within my mind nothing is still: huge, demanding thoughts and emotions slug it out in a battle for my attention while I struggle to avoid being overwhelmed.
And then, as softly sudden as the bursting of a soap bubble, the turmoil subsides and I experience a period of relative calm.
I feel the need to escape – a basic animal instinct to flee from threat. But there is no path to the place that draws me because it exists only in my memories, in the past. An illusory golden history, a carefree time of happiness. An amalgam of times and places synthesized into idyllic fantasy. Such a temptation!… to slip away into this perfect dream world.
A number of factors have likely contributed to my current state of mind but they all boil down to one thing: change. Too much has changed and is changing in too short a space of time and it all pushes me out of my comfortable routine existence into an unstable, unpredictable, disorientating state of uncertainty and confusion. I’ve not been sleeping well as a result, compounding the problem with tiredness – I feel tattered, ragged, frayed, worn out.
Please, somebody stop the world. I want to get off – I’ve had enough of this ride.
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…
Standing here, confined to the ground,
I watch the birds as they fly past;
Intently watch their darting grace –
Then suddenly my mind takes off.
Treetops slip by far beneath me
As I race above the earth,
Winging my way across the woods;
Released from gravity’s burden.
I dip my wing and twitch my tail,
Heading in a new direction
For the moment. No end in mind,
Content in my dream of freedom.
The world is seen in black and white
By the harvest moon’s silver light.
No clouds above to block the sight
Of stars that shine down through this night.
Tonight the woods are picture-still:
No creature stirs, no sound to fill
My ears. This endless moment will
A sense of utter calm instil.
I walk along the path that wends
Between the trees; it weaves and bends,
Rising quickly my course ascends
Until atop the hill it ends.
In front of me a ring of stone,
Ages old, creators unknown.
A place of power – druids’ throne
With secrets never to be shown.
I see the circle as a gate
Whose opening I shall await,
Then I’ll receive a gift from Fate:
My mind at peace, immaculate.