And I do still watch TV, although somewhere along the line I seem to have lost the able to watch things abstractly anymore; I’m always analysing, reviewing, pulling at the plots. My love affair with BBC’s Merlin spawned a huge number of writing projects – strangely most of them weren’t fan fiction although I have an AU series 4 fic that I’m still in the middle of – and BBC’s Sherlock generated the desire to re-read the entire works of Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle so I could try and understand how they put the scripts together.
Even going to bed doesn’t provide any down time. I either have a brilliant idea just as I’m dropping off, effectively preventing sleep as I scramble to write it all down, or I fall asleep but have exceptionally vivid dreams that leave me as tired as if I hadn’t bothered going to bed at all. Just this morning I woke up feeling as if I’d been royally pounded and in a way I had, having spent last night as an active participant in what I think was the battle of Badon Hill. My first act on opening my eyes was to grope for the sword I didn’t have and, even after I’d woke up most of the way, the taste of copper was so strong I put my hand to my mouth expecting it to come away bloody.
I should have realised sooner that I was running myself to a standstill; I should have recognised the symptoms.
You see, since 2009 when a major cause of stress removed himself from my life, I haven’t really been ill. I’ve picked up the odd bug and had the odd migraine but the days of being surprised when I didn’t feel awful had become a distant memory. Then, at the back end of last year I caught a cold from one of my colleagues. It was bad but not bad enough to incapacitate me. I ate more clementines, took Lemsip but otherwise ignored it. I didn’t have time to be ill and I dismissed the inner voice that had begun muttering that I was trying to do too much with a firm ‘It’s Winter you idiot, what do you expect?’
Eventually the cold eased off but it didn’t go away entirely. The cough that followed really didn’t want to shift though. When it made sleeping almost impossible I finally went to a doctor. The medication shifted the infection but I still didn’t feel well. Again I ignored it, I was functioning and I had too much to do to allow myself to slow down.
At which point my body made it very plain it had a different view on the matter.
I picked up a rather appalling stomach bug and had no choice but to remain in bed for three days doing absolutely nothing. When I’d stopped wanting to die I realised that I felt better for the rest – and that statement tells you all you need to know about how ridiculous my life had become.
Somehow I’d managed to turn wanting to get the most out of my time on this earth into having to do everything all at once. The thought of putting some of my projects on the back burner felt like a failure on my part. I like failure less than I like idleness and so I was damned if I was going to let anything slip. Each time I couldn’t finish something because there simply weren’t enough hours in the day I’d berate myself and vow to do better tomorrow. When that wasn’t possible I’d berate myself some more. Small wonder I’d made myself sick.
I know it’s not anywhere close to idleness but it’s the best I can manage.
I’ll let you know if it works.
2 thoughts on “The Importance of Being Idle”
Yes, it is strange the way our bodies often show what we are feeling. I used to be a person who didn't like beach holidays, and actually I still do usually hate having nothing to do. But lately I have discovered the pleasure of just letting things sink into my brain, lying somewhere pleasant and relaxing in the sunshine, a place where I want to be, with the person or people I want to be with, and just doing nothing. Its a kind of addiction, being busy, and addictions are not always good.
Good luck with your studies!
Thank you – hopefully it will go ok. If you've got ant tips on how I can learn to like properly relaxing please let me know 🙂