waking up one morning last weekWhen we first moved onto the boats just before Christmas I still felt as I needed a complete break from routine; a rest from responsibilities. I was reading the other week about 'seasonal affective disorder' - a form of depression that strikes in the winter, and which is often treated with exposure to bright light. The symptoms, officially, include lack of energy, needing to sleep a lot, and craving carbohydrates. This is supposed to be an illness, a pathology, a sign of something wrong! Bollocks, say I, it's our natural need to hibernate, at least partially; a need that we can't fulfil in this age of electric light, 24 hour capitalism, and rule by the clock rather than the sun, so we call it an illness instead and try to 'treat' the individuals who feel it the most strongly so that they can be made to fit back into the artificial rhythms of modern life.
So, for a month I just went with the flow, slept ten or eleven hours a night, and took it easy. I confess that my job was not a particularly onerous or routine bound one, although I didn't realise until after I stopped how stressful it was commuting to and within London for the past five years. In fact, the lack of routine might have been part of the problem. They may change over the course of the year, but life does naturally have rhythms, and a fragmented and unpredictable working day/week/month constantly throws these into disruption. So after a month, I was ready to find a routine again, and last week started putting one into practice. So far I am pleased to say it seems to have worked; I have achieved everything I set out to during this week just passed.
looking back towards the aqueduct (or approaching home)
I start most days by walking into Brewood to buy a paper and see if there's any post. After crossing the A5 and scrambling up the embankment it's a pleasant walk along the towpath, and makes a round trip of just over three miles. Even over the course of the past week I have observed the weather changing, as the mud freezes harder each day, and is also drying too. Yesterday there was a thin skim of ice on the canal; today it was thicker. Today was definitely a two jumper day. (Keep your fancy high tech fleeces; you just can't beat wool.) On Wednesday there was a craft fair in the village hall; and on the way home I bought a pot of hyacinths for a pound from outside someone's house.
At the beginning of the week I set myself a list of goals, realistic ones, and I have achieved them all, so that's a good feeling to go into the weekend with. When I gave up my job, I asked myself how I would describe myself if someone asked what I did for a living; I realised that I would like to be able to say that I was a writer. Thanks to my efforts this week, that seems to have come a step closer. Next week, I may try to start getting up a bit earlier...