Thursday, 27 September 2018

Time in all its ways.

We consider time in all the ways it cannot be. It cannot be filled, or spent, or wasted. It is not malleable, it is not better or worse, slower or faster, more valuable.

We can pretend we have control over time in the way that our minds perceive it, that is powerful enough. But it is an illusion and nothing more.

Funny then, that I should always worry about time. Worry about how I fill it. Was that hour spent well enough? That day? That week? Was I present enough? Did I watch time fly or did I only sit to ponder it after the event of time passing, whilst it still passes now. And now. And still now.

What is an hour spent well? When I was happy? When I was working hard at something I care about? When I was working hard at something I don’t?

For the whole of September I have been telling people that I am “filling time” before I go back to university. Filling it up because I’m bored, waiting for my real life to start again.

My real life. What does that involve then? Perhaps just an easier way to “fill” that time. A distraction from time. Fewer hours spent watching time pass.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

I've got a favour to ask you.

I have thought for a long time about writing this particular post. I still feel nervous about it. I think because I value the integrity of the blog, and the autonomy of the reader to do with each post what they will. That sounds a lot heavier than I mean it, but I am aware that in our current climate of clickbait and manipulative algorithms people are tired of having content shoved in their faces. And maybe my content isn't wanted, or needed enough for it to make it further than my circle of Facebook friends.

But I am going to ask, since I preach about being brave enough to do things one is scared of, for you to do me a favour. I don't always know exactly who 'you' is. Most of the time I am surprised by who it is. I still half expect the readership of this blog to extend only to my dad and some close friends. Happily I am often proven wrong.

So I am going to ask this: if you enjoy a post, and I mean genuinely enjoy it, would you share it? Or even just like it, so that more people on your feed and mine can see it? I want to clarify that I want this to happen only when you feel it's right. For example, don't share this post because I literally asked you to, share the next one because maybe it made you feel something, maybe it felt important.

I feel like I am writing a letter to 'you', asking for your help. In a way I guess I am. I've spent enough time working on this blog to want it to go somewhere. If it doesn't it means it wasn't supposed to, but if it can it was because 'you' as a collective reader decided it was good enough to share with your version of the wider world. And by going somewhere I'm not sure exactly what I mean, but sharing my writing with more people would mean a lot. Just a few friends of yours you think would appreciate it, maybe.

I might regret this post, I might not, but there's never any harm in trying, is there? And I trust 'you', whoever you are, to let me know when mistakes are made, or when I think they've been made but  haven't. 'You' often keep me on the straight and narrow, just by being there to listen to the thoughts I type out I hope can always be heard.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

All this togetherness.

When I wrote a play about loneliness I was writing it for women my age. Or women who had ever been my age, or women who would be. I don't know why I was gendering it in my head but the entire process I was surrounded by women and I talked primarily to women about my own loneliness so why would I consider the play to be for anyone else? I was 20 and a woman and had felt lonely and so that was who the play was for. A dedication, if you like.

But at almost every single performance there was at least one man in the audience who was over the age of 50 and who, after the play had ended, came up to me with genuine gratitude in his eyes and said "well done and thank you so much for articulating something that I couldn't". I didn't know these men, but this genuinely happened several times. I had inadvertently reached out to people I didn't realise I had much in common with at all.

One of the reviews started off by stating their fears that this would be a self-indulgent little play by a self-indulgent little girl who barely knew what life even had to offer. Harsh, but maybe somewhat fair. But it went on to say that the play was nothing of the sort, that it did feel universal, and that the loneliness expressed was human and wide-reaching. That the audience felt included.

Perhaps I did initially try to aim my play at women my age because I don't know what life has to offer yet, because I was scared of making assumptions. I haven't even turned 21, what do I know? And yet my fears feel older than that, they always have done. I know my loneliness is sometimes bigger than me, that it is felt by everyone at one point or another. There are different ways to feel lonely, but somehow I touched on a big one, and some people said thank you for it. And I am so grateful that they responded so kindly, because it all goes in one big circle, all this reaching out, all this universality, all this togetherness.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

The soul needs airing.

There is that stuffy feeling, isn’t there? When you’ve left the windows to your soul closed and the air inside grows stale. You need to pay attention to yourself, to listen to your quietness, to notice and listen to your own human body. 

I felt that last week, like I needed to shake myself out. Wash myself and hang up to dry. I needed to care for myself. 

So I spent hours grooming myself. Bathing in hot water, massaging shampoo into the roots of my hair, washing my face with something expensive and needless, but luxurious all the same. Lying there, watching your body just beneath the surface, stretched out beyond you, is soothing. It enforces a presence with yourself. 

I like the feeling of my skin without the rough hair that grows on my legs, or under my arms, and so more hours were spent removing it. Different methods: shaving, epilating, plucking. Contorting my body to find the roughest bits underneath my thighs, or long ones in the crevice of my knee. Frustrating and satisfactory at the same time; a feeling almost certainly reinforced by western beauty standards. My smooth skin glistened after rubbing in some chocolatey smelling moisturiser, and I enjoyed the end result. How lovely all the lines of my body, how gentle and peach like my skin.  Never mind the patches of hair unfound and forgotten, never mind red little bumps left by unkind razors, never mind scars. 

And then to paint my face, and dry my softened hair, and watch the angles change with the light in the mirror. Not narcissistically, just interested, fascinated with the idea of this body of mine; this fleshy cell from which I look out of and feel and process. And also I guess narcissistically too, as I paint angles onto my face, shapes to accentuate features I like. But it is okay to like them, it is okay to spend time with yourself. 

And it worked, this grooming. I felt I had dusted out my mind, come back to myself. Centred myself. Is this what it takes to love oneself? Perhaps some of it. My body is important to my being, after all.