Monday, 14 November 2011

Something about a labyrinth...

Monday. New day, new week (I know weeks are supposed to start on Sunday but really, we all know Monday is where it’s at, right?) So, let's disregard the fact I got two hours' sleep thanks to the usual mix of children, dogs, blood, tears, nightmares and vomit.  
It's a new start.  A new template for the blog.  A new temple dish for words. J
There’s a new driver on James’ bus and this morning he told me that he was 59 and had been effectively thrown on the scrap-heap after years spent in high-powered jobs with the police and charities.  Which rammed home the point that Time passes and I am farting around.  Over the last year, as those who knew me before might have noticed, I’ve been going through changes, big changes.  On all planes – physical, mental, spiritual.  
I had this big plan about books within books and so on but I suspect that was just ego talking.  And, you know, I have become increasingly uncomfortable with me and books; about this whole concept of ‘self-help’ books; about telling people what to do.  Cos you can’t tell people.  Cos you can’t change people.  They can only change themselves.  But people have repeatedly asked me how I changed myself – and that I can tell you. If you're interested.  If not and - really - I don't flatter myself that my Big Fat Mid-Life Crisis is that interesting, then just back quietly out, humming, eh?  No hard feelings, I promise.  
For those who're left, let’s backtrack.  Let’s go back a year, give or take.  

Let’s just say I had hit a landmark number in the birthday stakes, the F number (yes the Big F) and life looked pretty bleak. I sat in my study and felt a wave of deep despair wash over me.  I was fat, unfit, fed up. Every effing F word you could think of.  And a few more besides.
If life is a party then I was at that horrible moment when the music gets turned off.  The bit where coats get put on, the lights are turned up and taxis are called.  After that, as we all know, comes the silence.  The half empty wine glasses.  The stale smell of old perfume, stale beer and sweat.  The ghosts of laughter and music.  The remnants of friendship and loving.  The opportunities passed by.  The regret.
My career had gone down the pan.  I was living in a ridiculous, freezing cold house that had Money Pit etched in letters a mile high over the door.  I had been diagnosed with palindromic rheumatism and some days I could barely walk.  My immune system was shot to pieces and I lurched from one infection to another.  Yes, I had a very dear small family and good friends. Yes, I had a home. Yes, compared to other people, I had no health worries. Yes, I had at least some work. I was lucky. I was lucky. I was lucky. I kept repeating that to myself, over and over, like a mantra.  Yet when I looked forwards all I could see was a slow decline towards death.


I played a game of Spider Solitaire.  Lost.  Played again.  Lost again.  I clicked on Sync but the only new emails were spam.  I glanced through Facebook and winced at the ad messages down the side of the page which seemed to know me and my situation all too well.  Was I short of cash?  Was I depressed?  Did I need a face lift? Did I want to run away from it all?  Yes, yes, yes and yes.  And just piss off, will you?
Twitter was worse.  Why, I asked myself for the 300th time, did I torture myself following people who’d made it?  It seemed like all my old colleagues had  moved on, moved up, were successful novelists, editors, businesswomen, doctors, lawyers – or simply content doing absolutely nothing except play tennis and go for lunch.
I had £37 in the bank and a credit card that flinched like a beaten dog every time I plucked it from my purse.
Having gambled six months writing a novel nobody wanted, and finding that all the work I used to do was now being done for free or next to nothing by teenagers, I was all out of answers. 
I was four stone overweight and comfort eating my way through the working day.  I was drinking enough to give my liver a queasy feeling and my doctor to give me dark meaningful stares.  The gym and I were no longer on speaking terms.  I was, in effect, slowly and surely killing myself without taking the effort to throw myself under a bus.
Then I idly clicked on a forum.  It was full of the usual pretentious rubbish, in-fighting and bitching.  But one thread title piqued my curiosity. Something about a labyrinth.
Huh?
I’d always liked labyrinths.  I clicked.  And couldn’t quite believe what I saw.  I can’t remember the exact wording but it was something like.. 
What are you doing?  Why are you slowly committing suicide?
I knew it was ridiculous but it felt like it was talking directly to me.   I paused.  Then another message flashed up.
 Breathe.  Just breathe. 
And I did.  I took one breath.  And then another and another.  And absolutely everything started to change. 

40 comments:

Bud Jazzman said...

How many people stop and ask themselves am I simply going from one guru to the next, searching for something externally instead of simply being the me that I always am anyway as I unfold?

Bud Jazzman said...

Could the answer to well-being and happiness be so close that most people don't see the wood for the trees?

Exmoorjane said...

You got all the answers. You should write a book, Bud. :)

Bud Jazzman said...

There ya go...now how hard was that? lol.

Why would I want to write a book?

Exmoorjane said...

But yeah, people go guru-hunting and they think that 'this time' 'this one' will be The Answer... And, for sure, it's all within. Just sometimes we need a little wake-up call to put us back on track huh? Which, of course, we create for ourselves, by projection or earlier intent.. or whatever... :)

But you could have a point. Maybe all this introspection is yet another load of mind-wank. Maybe I won't continue with it. What you reckon?

Bud Jazzman said...

I reckon it is as it is as it unfolds and that's that. I am living an experiencing in the past anyway as my observations, as they unfold, are always seen in remembrance....I just saw, felt, heard, smelt, tasted what I just did. I allow my experience (other perceived people)to flow through my observation of them. At the end of the day, it's just me anyway, constantly and eternally folding back into myself and keeping busy playing hide and seek with myself, but with no chance of ever finding myself because if I did then there would be nothing left to do and no point in being.

Bud Jazzman said...

I think people focus on themselves having made mistakes. But do people actually make mistakes? Perhaps they simply just get results and move on, using those results to make more results.

Bud Jazzman said...

I've just noticed one of your ads. "Better than the Bible" You mean this thing is going to topple The Bible off the top spot of fairy stories after all this time?

Jesus might be a little pissed at that. I know Clapton was pissed at being called God. lol...Breathe

My word verification was actins...bit like Rowan and Martins laugh ins you reckon? yuk yuk

Frankie said...

I think re: guru hunting that it's looking for someone to do the work for us. We know what we want. And we know how to make it happen. But it's So. Much. Work.

We want to be thin and beautiful. But committing the rest of our lives to moderating our diet and exercising regularly is work. So much nicer if we could just take a pill or follow an unsustainable liquid & packaged meal plan, or just pay someone to carve us into the body we want to be.

We want to have written. But to do that, we have to write. And write and write. Whether we feel like it or not, to make it happen. So we read books about writing and websites about writing and talk to other people that also want to have written something, looking for the easy way, a magic formula that give us a shortcut between the desire and the result.

The single most important thing in changing, I think, is doing the work.

Exmoorjane said...

"There are no mistakes in life, some people say...It's true sometimes you can see it that way..."

Quotes huh? :) Re the Bible... What would Jesus say? I reckon he'd say "Better than The Bible" :)

Exmoorjane said...

Frankie, you snuck in! But do people know what they want? Do they really? People say they want this or that but, as soon as they get it, they then feel flat and want something else, something more. It's something I want to look at more, with these posts.. But yeah, we all talk about it a lot, instead of getting on and doing it! That's for sure. :)

Bud Jazzman said...

Maybe when the collective consciousness is nearer to the critical mass it will understand that it used death of the human body as a punishment; a form of self-abuse; something to be feared in order to stay here; make this "here" so important that there couldn't possibly be another level of consciousness.

Bud Jazzman said...

I used to have the want disease. It's what moved me to always having everything I need. In actual fact, I always had everything I needed, but saw it differently. Looking at it differently helped me to realise that the law of attraction really does work if you don't try to use it, but simply allow it its flow.

Bud Jazzman said...

Jane, you actually hit the nail on the head when you responded in a comment on The Jobo Pooks interview. You used one word that sums it all up. None of this is really of any consequence other than to keep the creator busy. People get so wrapped up in life that they miss the point. Can you guess what the word is?

Frankie said...

Also, I wish I could edit previous comments for typos & grammar. Stupid internet.

Bud Jazzman said...

You can edit by copying the post, deleting the post and posting it in as another comment but changing the typos before you hit the post button.

Frankie said...

@exmoorjane

"But do people know what they want? Do they really? People say they want this or that but, as soon as they get it, they then feel flat and want something else, something more."

I think we do know intuitively what we want. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow's_hierarchy_of_needs) And in the end, I think we all just want to be happy.

I think also that we imagine certain things will get that for us. (If I'm thin, someone will love me.) If we imagine wrong, and we so often do, even if we get what we wanted, the thing it was supposed to achieve for us--love, acceptance, respect--doesn't happen, and we are left still feeling empty. So we decide something else will fix it. (Now I'm thin but my boobs are too small, if I make them bigger someone will love me.)

Exmoorjane said...

Bullshit. That's the badger eh? :)

Re editing, please don't - cos then the comment stream looks messy with deleted posts and yeah, I know I could go to settings and delete them but really I can't be arsed...

It's all just different ways of passing time... some people do it by yearning and striving for ever bigger and better things; others do it by poking around at the edges of infinity inside quarks and driving themselves potty for kicks... :) lol etc.

Frankie said...

@Bud Jazzman

Clever solution. Thanks!

Exmoorjane said...

Frankie, you did it again! My reply was to Bud's and your earlier editing question. The bullshit wasn't in response to your later reply!

Exmoorjane said...

But then happiness is not a constant state, is it? One can feel content and comfortable on a relatively ongoing basis, but not 'happy' per se. And if one could? I dunno. Even bliss can get boring! Now we're back to another debate altogether!

Yes, I think when it comes to physical bodies, people do think that if they get the perfect body, they will find the perfect love or something akin to it. And I think that's the big lie implicit in the whole of the diet/fashion business.

Bud Jazzman said...

Once you delete, you have the option to delete forever, which means that your original post goes. The only problem is if someone has posted in the meantime, it will look disjointed.

When people want things, do they understand the real reasons they want them? Perhaps if you take your next want and analyse it, breaking it down, you will see that the real reason you want it is to simply feel better when in actual fact, you can feel better by simply thinking, but then people are too lazy in general to practice thinking in this way....it's the easy way out as has been mentioned previously.

Bud Jazzman said...

Correct. Happiness is balanced by measuring it against misery, but it's as easy to wallow in happiness as it is to wallow in misery.....it's simply a case of a little practice.

Exmoorjane said...

That is reminiscent of a technique from Solution Focused Therapy in which you ask someone the Miracle Question...
How would you know if you were happy?
And people start by saying cos they'd have won the lottery...
So you challenge them as to how they would KNOW they felt different...
And they'd get to saying they felt freedom from anxiety or whatever...
And eventually they'd pin it down to a precise thought or pattern of thinking which could, actually, be achieved without ANY win or even money whatsoever. :)

Bud Jazzman said...

People claim techniques that are quite natural and have been used naturally since I am therefore I must be. The Bullshit just gets recycled. Old wine in new bottles, but along the way people find the answer themselves and wallow in the ability to use misery as a switch to tuen on the light of happiness.

Bud Jazzman said...

Rather than edit could I please point out that tuen is turn? lol

Exmoorjane said...

And there was I about to Google tuen... lol.
Yeah, whatever. Nothing is new - just new packaging every so often...in order to sell the book or the course or the bit of string or whatever. :)

Right. Off to buy dog food. I've run out of the free stuff.

Bud Jazzman said...

Lack of self-worth is at the root of most things concerning wants. Wanting something for fear of being singled out as different and therefore not accepted by the group or pack etc.

Your apology to Frankie about the bullshit comment....analyse that. Why didn't you want Frankie to think you were commenting with bullshit on her post? No bullshitting, now! lol

Exmoorjane said...

Most probably re self-esteem.

Re apologising to Frankie...mainly cos the juxtaposition looked funny. Plus a bit for clarity in case anyone else can be arsed to follow this conversation. That's it really. But generally I tend to err on the side of politeness when I deal with people on the web... Why? Conditioning, no doubt... and rampant self-interest. :)

Bud Jazzman said...

A kind of "don't upset the apple cart" thing because of fear of some kind of loss.....lol

Midlife Singlemum said...

Be your own Guru - you've read enough and experienced enough not to have to pay someone to tell you what you know anyway.

This post is very timely for me - I hit the big F next September and I'm trerrified of still being 4stone overwieght and directionless. I keep promising that every tomorrow is the big change day in the way I operate. And I keep letting it go.

Re the new blog look - it's a complete about face. It doesn't feel like you yet but I'll get used to it. It's very neat and professional whereas you have a scatty/eccentric streak about you that I love.

Exmoorjane said...

Bud: Nah, not really. :)

MSM: Ah no...not a guru...not remotely. I'm really not into gurus... But sometimes I do think we get nudged (or our subconscious nudges ourselves via other people) to make changes.
Then you have the choice to change or not. Once you decide at some deeper level than conscious mind, it becomes relatively easy...
The blog template? I just wanted a change and the column width of the old one was bugging me. :) xx

Jake Barton said...

I read all your posts and, as we've met in real life, can dare to claim you as a friend as well as being a fan of your writing. No bullshit: this is the best blog piece ever. Perfectly described descent into despair and, finally, a hint at the road to redemption.
Jane, you are an inspiration, to me and I suspect to many others. What makes you special is you humanity coupled with your matchless ability to describe your situation so precisely. I'll not be the only one nodding my head and thinking, 'yeah, that's exactly right.'
Keep on, Celtic Goddess. You found your time, your road to Damascus moment. Maybe the opportunity to travel the real road to Damascus lies ahead. I hope so.
Whatever lies ahead - you'll cope. Splendidly, because you deserve no less.

Frankie said...

@exmoorjane :) I didn't think it was.

I think happiness can be a constant state. I think that we're conditioned with an unrealistic idea of happiness--and one heavily tilted toward externals. If I just had a bigger house, if I just drove a better car, if I were just thinner, if I just had those Jimmy Choos... then I would be happy.

And of course, those things were never going to make us truly happy to begin with.

It's like love. We've been sold, and sold ourselves, a Disney version that ends with "happily ever after." It's all passion and lust and there's no place for quiet constancy. How many times have people said to each other "I love you, but I'm not in love with you"?

Sessha Batto said...

Jane, Jane, Jane - sometimes I swear we're tins separated at birth ;) I hit the bottom four years ago this week, unemployed after 20+ years at the same job, just turning 50 and, apparently, unemployable, wracked with indecision.I've never been one for gurus (trust issues, what can I say?!) but I do believe in hard work - so I reinvented myself. It seemed obvious that 'I' was not successful at much of anything, so 'I' became Sessha (who is much nicer and far more social than I ever managed) and she started to write ;) Is it perfect? - oh, feck no! I've made virtually no money, we're hanging on by our fingertips . . . but I'm strangely calm about it all, more peaceful and centered than I've been in decades. I'm living my life from breath to breath and it is, for the first time, manageable, if a tad messy and irresponsible ;) I had a grand conclusion I was working towards here, but now my mind has gone completely blank . . . you're smarter than me, perhaps you'll see what I've forgotten ;) Or perhaps it's merely that perception is all - look at yourself from another point of view and gain perspective.

Jake Barton said...

Great comment, Sessha. Another woman I bow down in admiration to. Awful sentence, sorry, but you know what I mean. You're both strengthened by adversity, all the better for it and I'm left feeling massively inadequate in comparison. Onwards, Jane and Sessha both.

Zoë said...

Never sought out a Guru of any kind (too independent and pig headed for that) but I so recognise the aimless meandering you were suffering. Like you were, I am overweight, unfit, and generally lacking in any direction. My get up and go, got up and left and has been MIA for about 3 years now. I am unemployable, and I have no idea which direction to go. I hope I can find something that talks to me and points the way.

Just dont get any skinnier alright? xxxxxxxxxxxxx

Bud Jazzman said...

Constant states like perceived bliss must be measured against something in order to know them. The contrast does more than just measure the differences; it provides constant feedback. Most people have no idea how to read the feedback and create the contrast to those who do...Ha! It's all just bullshit so you might as well enjoy it!

Alison Cross said...

The thing that you are searching for is making you seek.....

*profound thought for the day*

I lap up all these books. Of course, no-one can make you change or be happier or whatever - just like no-one can stop you drinking or taking drugs.

But knowledge is power and I constantly live in hope that I will grind into some kind of meaningful gear before I die :-)

Ali x

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