Slouching Toward Change

Photo by Alexander Possingham on Unsplash

I was awake at 5:15am this morning. The cat was jumping around, scratching at my bedside table then running away when I attempted to stop or placate her; an alternative cat and mouse game where I am the cat and she is the mouse.

She wouldn’t let me settle, but am I transferring my restlessness onto her?Inside it was me who was finding it difficult to relax in the post-Christmas slobber. I knew I had an important thing to do, so in the unusual mildness of a late-December morning I rose to start a task.

The task was to research for an essay on attachment theory. To compartmentalise; I am in the process of studying to be a Counsellor, but it is not sitting easy with me. It might be the workload we have to complete that I have to juggle with work and a few older parent issues. As always everything heightens toward Christmas and it took my concentration away.

I have learned in my studying toward counsellor training is the Automatic Thought process. The thoughts that come into our head which can affect our behaviour and actions when a situation arises which is embedded in our own historical experiences.

Those two weeks before Christmas I tried to change my automatic thoughts of feeling stressed into, “I’m just feeling a little pressured just now”. This felt more actionable than stressed. I knew I had an essay due on the 8thJanuary and every day thought to myself;

“I’m not stressed, it is just a lot going on and each day I have tasks to complete that will get me closer to the Christmas break. Then I can concentrate on the task of reading and research for the essay!”.

Then it was all over, some free time to research and write the essay. Two weeks ahead with no work, friends and family to see and time to concentrate. Except I can’t.

I did from 5:30am until 6am this morning, that was fine. Then I went back to bed because the automatic thoughts were creeping in again. This time they were calling to me with two words; Joan Didion!

You see I had not written anything for ages and I was at the point of getting frustrated, not finding that one piece of Lego acts as the connecting foundation to other bricks, fitting easily together to make an article or essay. Caught up in life events that my brain was not finding the automatic thoughts I wanted. A subject to write.

In bed this morning I was replaying Griffin Dunne’s The Centre Will Not Hold(2017) about the life and work of the writer Joan Didion. Always with me I am attracted to an author or someone in the arts by their style, how they present themselves or are presented to us. Never having read one of her books I have seen her picture and wondered at her unusual coolness in every picture, that no matter what is going on around her she is the centre.

And lying this morning with cat on my chest asleep I saw clearly that I was trying to power on in a career that I had enjoyed and was using it to diversify into a counselling qualification when all I really wanted to do was create written pieces with meaning. Did I want to write an essay on attachment theory, or did I want to dig deep into me and into social subjects that offer a profound commentary on my view of the world; my own and others.

Do I keep wanting to plug away at supporting others in a competitive industry where I have the skills to achieve, or do I want to continue writing in an equally competitive industry that is frightening on the one hand, because I write from the personal and nothing can be hidden, but is also exhilarating because maybe I am deep down narcissistic to think that I could become a credible writer.

Back to the documentary. Joan would get up and have a Coke before settling to write. After my sleep I got up because the cat was hanging off the blinds and left them alone to cosy up to the gas fire when I switched it on. My intention then was to start studying for the essay, but I sat on Instagram looking at the Insta-boys logging each part of their Christmas with their latest sponsored post. A gay has to make a dime somehow!

This gay though doesn’t seem to want to write an essay, but I am writing this instead. It took me until 12pm when I was procrastinating that I had the realisation that this needed to be written. It is messy and if you want to know the voice that is going through my head as I write? Look up the YouTube channel Better Than Foodfrom Clifford Lee Sargent. It was only on hearing his voice from his book review of ‘Slouching Toward Bethlehem’ that I found that earworm voice to write this.

I have no answers yet for you. This has been cathartic to write because the blank page is now populated with words, sentences and punctuation. I’ll have lunch before I start thinking about writing that essay. Then…

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