Waving or drowning?


Hurry up!

We’re almost out of time

Days and nights fly by

Ages bloom and fade like flowers

We have to scramble for our chances

We’re too poor to be late —

And so I rushed to save every minute

While squandering away hours

To anyone who wanted them.

And when the frantic race was over

I could see the finish line

Bursting with fear lest I be too late

Only to find at the last minute

That yet there is time.

(Deepak Chopra “Out of Time” from “On the Shores of Eternity”)

It’s been a busy few weeks, and although I’ve been getting a lot done on my ‘priority’ tasks, I’ve been feeling the pace and pressure more than a little and have felt myself sliding back down into that place where all I feel is panic and frustration, because there’s just *so much* I want to do, set against so little time in which to do it all.

In writing and in textile art, I’m bursting with ideas and projects and things I want to do, to try, to make, and of course I want to do them all *now* – I don’t want to have to wait, but I can’t even think of starting them because I don’t have the time … the frustration makes me want to scream. It doesn’t help that now I’ve more-or-less finished with the loft refurb, I’ve got a new and wonderful space in which to work, where everything has its own proper place and it’s all conveniently to hand – and every item has an idea tagged to it. Seeing them all there is a reminder of the things I haven’t done yet.

It feels as though there’s a permanent Everest of  ‘things-to-do’ rising up in front of me, and that I’ve put myself on a rough and hard road that leads only to inevitable failure.

The feeling hasn’t been helped by a run of children’s illnesses, ailments and other crises disrupting my routine, nor by the rejection of my Anthriscus piece last week, which didn’t make the Surrey Open Art exhibition. Spending last night rounding up the last month’s worth of short-story rejections and somehow finding the courage and energy to send them out again more-or-less put the nail in the coffin, and the demons were whispering – no, screeching – that I might as well give it all up as a bad job.

It almost feels like drowning.

But it’s not as bad as it’s been before. Before, when I’ve felt like this, the overwhelm has been complete and has left me paralysed and incapable of doing anything. I’ve just frozen, and weeks and even months have passed before I’ve been able to pick up and start all over again.

This time it feels different.

I feel like I’m more aware of what’s happening to me, and I feel like I’m more in control. Even last week, when I was wallowing in the depths of rejection hell, I knew that what I was going through was almost a mini-mourning period – the negative thoughts weren’t the whole story, and I knew they weren’t, but I needed to allow myself to acknowledge and experience them so that I could let them pass. Trying to ignore them would have been futile, and equally, trying to cheer myself up would have been futile too.

And it’s the same with all those projects – yes, I want to do them all, and I want to do them all *now*, but even if I had all the time in the world I still couldn’t do them. This time round, though, I feel like I’m more able to recognise that there is more than just ‘now’ – if those projects are important enough to me, they will stay with me, and they *will* get done, one way or another – it may not be for a few years, but when when I have so many to play with (imshallah), then I can feel less stressed and less like I have a clock ticking in the back of my mind, counting down to some imaginary deadline.

And so I feel like I should be drowning, but I’m not. It’s a long hard swim to the shore, but I think I’m just treading water, and waving.


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