Reflections whilst making porridge... beginning with will power and ending in the meaning of life… ...so just something light to start the day on…
It is a strange feeling when one’s body wishes do two very separate things at exactly the same time. It is as though an internal struggle is taking place without any reference to your mind. Two separate forces within you are vying for prominence whilst you are left stranded in some kind of unpleasant and uncomfortable limbo as they attempt to override each other and no one ever entirely seems to win.
Such was the case this morning and it certainly is not an uncommon situation for me. My malediction in life is exhaustion, we all have one; an interminable nemesis, and mine is like a leech draining all other feelings and desires I have along with all of my energy. Case in point; I woke up much earlier than was required today persuaded into consciousness by an overwhelming need to for food. I was very hungry, I felt so hungry in fact that I even took the trouble so say out loud “Gosh I’m hungry!” because there it was, an absolutely overwhelming desire to get up and eat, but not so fast! My old friend exhaustion had a thing or two to say about that! and so I stayed where I was in a restless discomfort peppered with black holes of deep and unremembered sleep while my rumbling stomach fought with my thick head, and honestly I couldn’t really tell you that either of them won in the end. I think they both gave up. It is now much later than it should be, I am awake, I have had coffee and have no real desire left for either food or sleep, although I’m making porridge anyway as that seems like a nice idea.
What a frustrating waste of time.
It puts me in mind of being hungover and completely desperate for a sip of water. You are so full of desire for that cool, life-affirming refreshment that you literally dream about it, knowing that that and only that will make your pounding head feel ok. And it is just there! Right there next to you! A glass of water on the bedside table and only slightly out of reach. All you have to do is stretch out your hand and sit up a little but somehow even such a simple movement seems like far too much to ask. If only the water was in a cup on the floor, a lidded cup to avoid spills with the convenience of a straw. Reaching down is so much easier than reaching up after all. And imagine, even better, if it had been filled with ice the night before, it perhaps would still be glacier-lake cool, there may even be condensation running down its side like in an ad for a glass bottle of coca-cola or a refreshing pint of beer, although, no, don’t think about beer.
Who, please, did not arrange this convenient scenario? Drunk-you is an inconsiderate fool.
You are not speaking to them again.
Until later on this afternoon.
All that being said it has been a bad week for me and an absolute riot for my old nemesis. While said nemesis will be bringing it up as a key achievement in its 2019 year-end review, adding it to next year’s calendar as a date to remember and fondly pinning pictures from the past week up on the fridge door, I will be desperately trying to move on.
Weeks like this where I feel as though I have underachieved and not been good enough leave me wondering what is “good enough”? What does failure look like, and what am I trying to achieve?
With my usual existential-crisis-support-network (boyfriend) currently out of the house I remember that I am, in fact, and to some degree, a Bachelor in the Art of Philosophy. Surely one of those old men who lived tens if not hundreds of years ago under entirely different expectations and in an utterly unrecognisable context to my own will be able to offer some wisdom.
I go to my bookcase and pick up a volume entitled The Philosophical Life, I flick to the back, there is no entry for existential crisis in the index which I consider to be a major oversight. I glance thoughtfully at another book called How Proust can change your life, that is all very well and good I think but my copy of Proust’s Swann’s Way is 290x154x37mm and although the text is fairly large it just seems like too much of an undertaking. I wonder if a bit of Montaigne might be nice, I seem to remember he was a fairly optimistic fellow but his Complete Essays looks just as daunting in a volume of 290x154x47mm and with much smaller text.
However there is a chapter on Montaigne in The Philosophical Life, I begin there. Unfortunately it is indeed more about his life itself than his philosophical maxims and I have such a daunting and ever growing list of to-dos in the back of mind that this attempt to understand the whys and wherefores feels unproductive. Why? Because of course we don’t know what it’s all about and the most likely thing of all is that there isn’t an answer. We keep ourselves unassailably busy so that we have no time to be constantly confronted by the reality that we have no idea what we’re doing it all for. That doesn’t mean that in full knowledge of this we can just stop doing what we’re doing because everything we “have” to do relates to someone else and telling them it’s not important is like telling them their life has no worth. People rely on us so that we feel worthy and we rely on them so that they do too. It’s one big charade and we’re all in on it. You effect my life which gives your life meaning and I do the same in turn.
So sign your tax returns and submit that meter reading! No seriously because it saves someone else unnecessary admin and your role in life is to show them that their life is worth more than that - everyone’s life is worth more than unnecessary admin.
All in all the reason that we have existential crises in the first place is that in life there is no clear end goal and nothing definitive to work towards. It’s all just a chain of cause and effect in which we are each a small part. Leading to the worst realisation of all; we are not, any of us, as important as we think we are.
So once again we end the morning’s ruminations on a slightly gloomy note of futility...
Reflections on my “Reflections”: I will need to start making said reflections a little more upbeat and hopeful otherwise no one will ever publish them in a 290x154x47mm volume, or at least not one that anyone will ever want to read.
Pan and bowl go in the sink to soak because if you are not quick to act porridge sets like concrete.
I spend the rest of the day artfully avoiding the completion of the aforementioned to-do list. I don’t want to overachieve my life out of all its meaning.