So I have agreed to this new blogging device – being made to write against the clock by a third party. It throws up some painful challenges. “What I need is themes,” I said foolishly, thinking more of a leg up than a challenge. What I must have meant to say was: “Please can you provide a timely string of themes I would have written about eventually if I was not so good at avoiding writing.” My actual question allows the third party a creative input – naturally. This turns out to be surprisingly dangerous.
Impletion is my target word for this week and I have never even heard of it. My laptop dictionary has never heard of it. But eventually I discover it is a real word and goddammit I am going to use it in a sentence if it kills me… even though no-one else does. ‘Rare’ proclaims the online dictionary, and did I mention, my two kilogramme Chambers dictionary hasn’t heard of it?
I dig deep for things-I-have-thought about fullness, filling up, becoming full up. Impletion doesn’t mean fullness as such, like satiation or completion – something we can ruminate on and which in itself enables rumination. Impletion means filling up; ‘being full’ is one of its meanings, but it seem to be more about the process, and can even be the filling substance itself. I am overjoyed to remember another new, fabulous word that hooked me in once, which I decide relates to this. The word is endosophomorphism and if I have remembered it correctly it means the desire to be completely consumed by another creature, to be completely inside another. Or does it mean the desire to consume another entirely? Either way, I haven’t, because even wikidictionary won’t have this one.
And then something happens to save me. I realise that one of actual current themes buzzing insistently round my head for at least a week – the kind of ‘little noticing’* that does make a post if you are not procrastinating and do actually write – is impletion.
For many years I have known objectively that I am someone who ‘does too much’. My persistent self-image was of a lazy person internally resisting every effort, and I proved this to myself whenever any hedonism was allowed – birthdays and events, friends visiting, extended picnics. Fifteen years ago a good friend, now more than that, corrected me: “I’m lazy,” I said. “No, you’re the opposite, you do too much.”
Now I have had years to observe how hard it is to un-do too much. When I gave up my doomed PhD project after <winces> 6 years, it took me about a year to realise that it would take longer than two weeks to recover from the state of tension into which this extraordinarily unrealistic instance of too-much-doing had developed.
Another year later, I notice that the tension driving me to keep collecting big things to do was not only rooted in the fear of being endosophomorphicised by another me who did only childcare and housework, but also in the same response to my childhood that propelled me from small town to bigger place. Yes, I collected responsibilities to assuage my guilt at being unwilling; yes, I collected research questions because I didn’t understand my family dynamic; but ultimately, I couldn’t say “No” to things because I was so excited by all the interesting things just being there.
I wonder how widespread this condition is, because there are many of us who naturally fear being pigeon holed or isolated, and many who get excited about having lots of choice about what to do. It’s become commonplace to recognise that we are driven by social influences to want stuff, but consumer culture is also a major driver in the race to do more things. New activities and skills enrich us but they also layer us up with information and ethical commitments. As we pile on layer after layer we can end up in a web of our own life so thick and complex that we can’t get out or off or down. It is all built from ourself, so it is compelling. We’re impleted, implete, with opportunities we have said yes to, and responsibilities that follow on from things we thought much simpler to begin with. The brain and emotions groan and we wonder why we are tired and disaffected. We ask ourselves: is there something else I should be doing? I am sure this momentum is responsible for the onset of many cases of ME and chronic fatigue syndrome.
As we are told that fasting on 500 calories for two days a week can bring great physical health benefits, so we can perhaps learn to celebrate time to do nothing as an essential activity in itself, one without which impletion turns to internal combustion.
*’A little noticing’ is a way Sarah Ditum once described of an idea for a post starting.