I wake up writing. I often wake up whilst writing in my head. I literally come to consciousness half way through a sentence. I can’t remember what this morning’s was, but the other day I had a dilly about a ‘pervasive human wind’. It was so vivid and insistent that I thought it was a thing, so I looked it up on the Google. It turns out that pervasive human wind is not a thing at all.
(I suddenly realise that, for some people, human wind is going to mean farting, and that there may be sniggering at the back. I felt it as a kind of mass hurricane, something to do with global warming or the extinction of species. But perhaps it was just people who had eaten too many sprouts.)
Anyway, I wake up writing and I think, through the fog of sleep, ‘get it down’, and then I am not quick enough on the draw and whatever brilliance came out of my dreams is lost forever. So I write this instead, which I am starting to see is quite dull and mildly pointless. Yet, I write it all the same.
I want to say something profound about the lockdown and the pandemic and the human condition. I want to say something important about the loss of hope and the holding onto of hope and all the spaces in between. I want so say something cheery about we can do this thing, we humans, if we stick together and are kind and don’t give up. But actually I feel a little flattened today, like a cartoon character who has been run over by one of those machines that rolls tarmac on roads. I don’t have much in me, except a vague determination to go on bashing on, a resolution flickering in and out like radio static.
I think it’s probably like this, in the middle of a new virus, where nobody really knows what is going on. Quite normal things take a bit of effort; normal things like behaving like a half-decent human being. Half the time, I’d love to be running around Twitter bitching about this incompetent politician who is so stupid she shouldn’t be allowed out of the house and that idiotic journalist who can’t even write a sentence without dangling a modifier and that incredibly rude world leader with no edit button and no soul. But I resist, and retweet pictures of sheep, or Detroit in 1932, or Frankie Dettori and Enable instead. I have this lunatic idea of trying to put beauty in the world, although sometimes I just want to shout ‘What the actual fucking fuck?’ quite a lot.
I get very sad and cross when people are furious on social media, but I do see how it happens, especially now. They are so scared and tired and frustrated over Object A, and they can’t deal with that, so they take all their terror and bile out on Object B. I say ‘they’, but I’m a cigarette paper away from being those people. It’s just that somewhere along the line my mum taught me the importance of manners and I had a brilliant shrink in Hampstead Garden Suburb a hundred years ago who gave me a whole, lovely toolbox of psychological tools and there’s a wise woman I work with in New Zealand who knows every single thing about processing emotions. If it wasn’t for those three, I expect I would be shouting on social media in capital letters and telling people who disagreed with me to BUGGER OFF AND DIE.
I got lucky, in other words. I had that mother who believed in kindness and being polite. I had, for many years, the brilliant Dr Herbert, who has forgotten more about how the mind works than most people will ever know. And now I have the dazzling Jane Pike, all the way away on a ravishing peninsula on the South Island, who has taught me how to reset my nervous system. How damn lucky is that? Instead of yelling at people on Twitter, I know how to shift myself from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic nervous system. And sometimes this actually involves dancing. Who would have guessed that dancing in the kitchen is huge for the nervous system? And because of this I can have the days when I feel a bit as if I’ve been done over by a steamroller and I can have days when the light at the end of the tunnel grows very faint and I can have days when I feel a bit inadequate, and that’s all right, because it’s the human condition and I know I’m not alone and if the worst comes to the worst, I can put on Heroes by David Bowie and dance in the kitchen like my life depended on it. Which maybe, in some cock-eyed way, it does.