Monday, 21 November 2016

I Bare My Psyche

I've been tidying my desk.  Something to do with jogging the Park Run has made me think I can achieve other impossible feats.  I've been tidying my desk and I came across a list.

I jogged five or so years ago as a way of trying to defeat sadness.  Sadness won, so I went to therapy.

"How do you feel?" my therapist, TP, asked each week.
"Sad," I replied, each week.
"What does it feel like, this sadness?"  TP persisted.
"Well .... sort of .... sad."
"For a poet," TP stated, never one to hold back from the necessary truth, "you're remarkably inarticulate about emotions."

What the sadness felt like was a weight I'd been carrying since Upper 3 Biology with Miss Beynon.  I could tell you about how I was working hard, copying a diagram of a radish from the board, labelling tap roots and leaves, wanting her approval.  But the point is that in the middle of recording and analysing life according to someone else's prescription, I realised everything was meaningless.  And I realised Miss Beynon preferred plants to children.

I was 11 and the afternoon sun was making things too hot in the lab, and I had a home-made haircut, and a home-made skirt and a home-made God-given attitude, and I didn't know what to do with this feeling.  These feelings.

I tried re-thinking things in History, and found a bit of relief in hearing about the Battle of Waterloo, but after that, the weight never left me.

Never one to take the truth or an insult lying down, I prepared myself for therapy, and TP's next knowing provocation, and started a list, took it as a script to my next session.  That'll learn you. We ended up laughing, a lot.

And I found out that the point of everything, for me, is to know how, exactly, to go about, and around and about, naming things.

One Hundred Words For Sad

1.       inadequate

2.       sorrowful

3.       leaden

4.       ruined

5.       desolate

6.       despairing

7.       depressed

8.       deflated

9.       damaged

10.   dead

11.   dreadful

12.   desperate

13.   anxious

14.   lonely

15.   overwhelmed

16.   vulnerable

17.   weak

18.   flat

19.   heavy

20.   sombre

21.   tired

22.   lost

23.   apathetic

24.   bitter

25.   resentful

26.   gloomy

27.   grumpy

28.   dumb

29.   condemned

30.   pathetic

31.   hurt

32.   judged

33.   disheartened

34.   shrivelled

35.   trapped

36.   frozen

37.   absent

38.   melancholy

39.   distressed

40.   unhappy

41.   discomforted

42.   glum

43.   afraid

44.   wounded

45.   stressed

46.   guilty

47.   insecure

48.   paranoid

49.   marginalised

50.   miserable

51.   disillusioned

52.   deserted

53.   failed

54.   bereft

55.   abandoned

56.   forlorn

57.   barren

58.   low

59.   blue

60.   misunderstood

61.   purposeless

62.   aimless

63.   dreary

64.   hapless

65.   useless

66.   pathetic

67.   morose

68.   fatalistic

69.   trapped

70.   resigned

71.   disappointing

72.   disappointed

73.   dissatisfied

74.   fearful

75.   pained

76.   careworn

77.   weary

78.   defeated

79.   helpless

80.   hopeless

81.   friendless

82.   alone

83.   redundant

84.   insignificant

85.   doomed

86.   destroyed

87.   pointless

88.   fucked up

89.   scattered

90.   fractured

91.   splintered

92.   fragmented

93.   bruised

94.   down

95.   negative

96.   sullen

97.   weighted

98.   weighty

99.   hollow


Saturday, 19 November 2016

I Jog The Park Run

This morning, I completed my third Park Run in beautiful early winter sunshine.  I set myself a goal this week which was not to fall over on the icy paths.

Falling over from a great height is no fun.  Garrison Keillor, of Lake Woebegone Days, describes seeing a tall person falling as like watching timber being felled.  When I first re-started playing badminton four years ago, I wore a pair of my son's trainers that he'd outgrown. My feet hadn't grown for a while and they were a bit too big for me. Whilst going for a tricky shot, I tripped over and fell hard on my bottom, which led to me sleeping on a bag of frozen peas.

The Park Run is a 5K route and in Shrewsbury it goes through the magnificent Quarry Park: 29 acres of grass, mature trees and paths sloping down towards the River Severn.  It's the best thing about the town. 

I mentioned to my brother I've been doing the Park Run and he told me to look ahead, not down, and to buy some decent trainers.  He didn't mention anything about peas, but he did talk about joints and so I went out and bought these:

It was hard to look ahead at 9am, the orange sun still low in the sky.  So I looked up, saw three swans flying the Severn's course. 

Before last week's Park Run I set myself the goal of running the whole way without slowing to a walk.  The week before, the first week of all, my goal was to complete the run.  Then, there were still leaves on the avenues of trees which line the paths.  This morning, the trees were standing strong, stripped to their dark winter skeletons, braced for the coming winds.

I've known what it is to run wheezing with asthma across Hampstead Heath for school cross country, and to run as an adult against the pain of being, as a form of self-flagellation.   But this running with friends and strangers, with the very young and the not-so-young, with the fast and the easy-as-it-goes, is becoming an unexpected pleasure in my life.

Monday, 7 November 2016

I Do My Bit (for the US of A)

Last week, I checked the statistics for my blog and discovered, much to my surprise, that my largest audience, by country, is in the USA.  My natural response to this discovery is to think that these 'hits' might not be readers but cyber robots patrolling the web for blogs to do with plumbing.  But just in case you're really reading this, my dear Americans, I want to use my influence.

In his book, 'How to Save the World', John-Paul Flintoff's thesis is that it's so easy to be overwhelmed by the enormity of the big things wrong with our planet that we are inclined to give up trying to make it a better place.  He argues that as a strategy, we can focus on the small things.

This is not a new idea, but he expresses it eloquently.  If you can smile at the person checking out your groceries, or grow your own parsley and then give the excess to a neighbour, he argues, the world becomes a better place by degrees.

Flintoff lists ways in which we can use our influence and advocates political action, on however small a scale.  So in response to him, I'm ditching my usual there's nothing to be done stance and urging you to vote.  And, I'll  make no bones about it, to vote for Hillary.

(There.  That wasn't so difficult.)

We in the UK (everyone, but everyone I know) are watching all agog and with  horror as the land of the free and brave looks in danger of voting in a self-declared racist misogynist to the White House.  Use your vote to make this less likely.