Friday feels…hectic. You know that cupboard (we’ve all got one) with the door that you’ve got to close really quickly in order to stop everything falling out? The cupboard that you know, next time you open it, will crush you with an avalanche of stuff? My life feels a bit like that at the moment: crammed, stuffed, over-filled, ready to burst. Hectic.That’s not a bad thing, by the way. I love how hectic my life is. There is always something to do, everything seems full of excitement and energy and ambition. I love that. In fact, when I’ve got nothing to do, I become morose and fed-up. I lambast a world full of pettiness, drivel, and…well, flatness really.
Between promoting John Sharpe, writing my second book, keeping this blog going, doing my day-job, spending time with family (and the dog: he gets very grumpy if I don’t show him due attention), freelance writing and editing jobs, reading for fun, reading to review, learning French, and planning the future, it’s hard to get a spare
thought in edgeways – and I love it! My parents have been visiting this week too, so time is even more squeezed. It’s no wonder that my chubby little thighs and I don’t get much exercise in!
All of this though, as great as it is, means that it’s almost impossible to shut that cupboard door. And my brain, well – it just won’t shut up, not even when I want it to! I read a joke once that said that a woman’s brain is like Internet Explorer with 259 tabs open at the same time. I don’t know how well that applies to the rest of the female populace but for me, that’s a pretty accurate description. I have brain tabs open for everything, and I’m thinking of at least ten things at once. I even spent some time training myself to be able to competently multi-task.
It’s great, for the most part, having a busy brain. Except we all need down-time and as much as I’d love to be able to survive on a mere one or two hours sleep, I know that without decent down-time I will be much less productive and what I produce will be significantly below par. Bed time is the worst. That’s the time that Confidence and Paranoia come out to play. Whilst Confidence spins through my thoughts like an old-school Rolodex, Paranoia has become much more subtle.
“You’ve only got a finite number of heartbeats,” he says. “And you’re wasting them lying here. There goes one – you’ll never get that one back. Oops, and another. And another. And another.” In other words, why waste time sleeping when you’ll be sleeping forever before you know it? All the while, Confidence dances with glee as he lists all the exciting possibilities that tomorrow will bring – all the things that we can read and write and do.
Roy (my beloved) says the problem is that I keep filling my brain with stuff but really, I need some empty space. Men have empty space, he says. The thought of empty space in my head frightens me – like a hole in the head. A missing part. An inefficient, ineffectually used part. A waste, just as Paranoia would say. But perhaps he’s right (Roy now, not Paranoia). Perhaps what I need is not more time (although more time would be great), but an empty space to go to when I need my brain to be quiet.
So I decided, lying in bed last night as Confidence and Paranoia slapped each other like children, that I would create myself an empty space – but what would my empty space look like?
Not an empty room, bare and morose, full of sadness and full of lacking. No, it definitely can’t be that. So a happy place, maybe? A library full of wonderful books and a roaring open fire, a big comfy chair and some tasty treats. But no, I decided. It couldn’t possibly be that. How would I stay calm with all those books around me? I’d be up and prancing, reading titles and pulling books from shelves with delight. So no library then.
I settled, then, on a tiny desert island, just big enough for me, a deck chair, a little table, and a big glass of Sangria (adorned, of course, with some sparkly bits). Maybe the dog too. And a book, because one book is okay, right? So I went to this empty space last night, and I sat there, the heat beaming down on me, the sun glittered sea bobbing away, sand between my toes, and the qwaring of the birds above and I was happy for a while, enjoying the empty space and the banishment of Confidence and Paranoia. The peace and quiet.
But then I started thinking again. What if I need a wee? (Because these things worry me). What if the phone rings and it’s an emergency? What about when I get that awesome idea that I need to write down immediately? What if indeed. I suppose I could always wee in the sea but other than that, I’m stuck on a desert island! And alas, the answer came to me: a magic portal back to the real world, sat just behind me at the back of the island. So there it is, my empty space but of course, with an in-built get-out clause, because my empty space couldn’t be truly empty now, could it?
What’s your empty space?