I have never felt as ashen-faced and truly exhausted as I do today. Having found myself getting excited all week at the prospect of a Saturday morning lie-in, I now sit, disappointed at my early rise, with a wall of laundry staring menacingly at me from across the room. A quiet, private hell.
It is a hell not because of the dull, unending string of chores which beset me every minute of every day – although this is slowly wearing me down. Nor is it because of the chronic sleep deprivation and the fuzzy brain capacity, the blotchy skin, the dark circles or the back pains which ensue as a result. The thing which makes me feel convinced of my residence in the realm of Hades is the fact that I have no stamina or will to finish anything of any value. Half finished emails, stand-alone paragraphs of partial ideas, the beginnings of an article all spew forth from my desktop whenever I sit down to do some ‘work.’ Yet completing any of them feels too great an undertaking for the limited concentration span I have at any given time.
This, one might say, is laziness.
Dress it up however I might, the fact remains that I will find any excuse not to finish something. Why? Who knows really. There are a myriad of subconscious possibilities. Failure is probably a fairly significant one. Or rather, fear of. Ironically, it is my fear of failure which inhibits me from churning out finished products (for once things are finished and circulated, they are then susceptible to review and thus, criticism – a most terrifying prospect). And yet it is this fear which has me so paralyzed. Which in turn, is causing me to fail.
But failure and I have become such an entwined couple these days. When I think of the future, all I see ahead of me is a great conveyor belt of days wherein I scramble to reconcile child-rearing, house-cleaning and cooking with “writing,” reading, volunteering and other such activities which could loosely be termed ‘career oriented’. And each day reaches its conclusion without anything ever really being achieved and nothing ever progressing. Just a clean house which no one will ever notice and a desktop full of untitled documents, a paragraph or so in each. As if trudging on Escher’s staircase, I am locked into unending paradox: I never get anywhere, no matter how many stairs I climb.
However, I am becoming increasingly cognizant of my own hand in this stasis. There is a certain comfort to be had in failure; one becomes free of expectation of themselves and free of the expectation of others. Life takes on a dull predictability. Like someone who has been incarcerated for too long, the prospect of life on the outside, with its freedoms and challenges, is all too real.
Currently I’m reading Henry Miller’s Tropic of Capricorn wherein he states that if one wants to write in earnest then they must do it to the exclusion of all else. Five thousand words a day on average is what he deems appropriate for someone wanting to legitimately refer to themselves as a writer.
Dang. I manage about three hundred a week; at best a stream of pointless journalling.
And while I scoff at how much easier said than done this is, he is right. There will always be more clothes to wash, an oven to clean, a child to feed, the shopping to be done, a hedge to be trimmed; there will always be tasks. But understanding the rightful place of these tasks in accordance with what is most important is key. So if one wants to write, then all these ancillary responsibilities must be just that: ancillary. For me they have taken on an altogether different function and it is one which I am battling to shirk off.
But as Eames says to Arthur in Christopher Nolan’s Inception, “You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.”
Perhaps the laundry can wait.