Wednesday, November 12, 2008


When I moved to this house six years ago, I was pleased to hear that the previous owner had just completed a massive re-wiring exercise. Not that I know very much about houses, electricity or anything even remotely related to both of these, but even in my infinite ignorance, I figured out that re-wiring was a big undertaking, no matter how small the house. As of late, I found myself thinking about re-wiring, even though it came to mind for a completely different reason.

I know that there are people who have worked for thirty years straight and for whom eight years is little more than a speck of paint on a wall, but for me, eight years are in fact my whole working life. Before then it was the uni and before then it was school, all the way back until I was six. I suppose it’s therefore pretty accurate to say that, for the past fifteen years, I got up in the mornings and got ready for work.

Now that work as such does not exist outside of these few walls, I still get up in the morning and I feel a subconscious pull towards the rushing to the bathroom and the rushing to do my hair and my face and the rushing out of the door, even though I’ve got nowhere (indeed no reason), to rush anywhere. I’ve even started to entertain the very foolish idea of getting up at the crack of dawn so that I could be the first person through the coffee shop doors when it opens, sat in a corner with a steaming cuppa and a fresh newspaper.

But what for? What do I even feel this need to get up, get ready and go, when I always found the whole ritual so violent that I often ended up grinding my teeth through the blaring alarm clock? I need a good re-wiring, that’s what Paul was telling me only the other day, when I spoke of my great ability to fret about frittering time and about trying to find a structured purpose to each and every hour of the day, as if I were in the military.

Because re-wiring is a big job, I do not think that even these past three months have come near to even remotely showing me the way. In fact, it’s a bit of a miracle I’ve even realised I need re-wiring, let alone started it. To think that only a year ago I used to whizz past my favourite Starbucks at eight in the morning, wistfully sighing to myself and wishing for a life of leisure unencumbered by meetings and the tyranny of the clock! And now that I have it, it’s like I don’t know what to do with it!

Mac, who supervises my PhD, says that we are fixated with working many hours a day, all day, all day into the evening, even at weekend when, really, four steady hours a day, five days a week, are more than enough to allow us to do everything we need and want to do, research-wise. He thinks that I will, eventually, learn to let go of this MUST DO feeling and that I will be able to enjoy the days as they break down into pleasurable activities, as opposed to huge blocks of boredom, which is what characterised my working life until very recently. And so the journey begins... Tomorrow is the beginning of the rest of my life.
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