This one post

With this one blog post I want to mark the end of dithering about what and when to write. This kind of dithering is not a harmless kind, characteristic of a kindly parent who wants to get the balance right between libertarian and Victorian parenting, or a hurried pedestrian cautious not to get run over. This kind of dithering is the kind that lays waste to lives.

As if I hadn’t heard it enough times in enough ways already, that one must seize the day, that one cannot expect to write if one does not write, I have had an onslaught of pushes this year. I was shown a book by Stephen Pressfield, The War of Art, which is so good I had to slow down the reading of it to make it last. Every page of it is worth typing out in full for you here which isn’t a particularly sensible use of the blog. Pressfield says Resistance is king and we are the subversives, he says that we can and will never defeat it, so to think that we are wise to wait until we have done so before we embark on the activities that lead us to our goals is only the contorted success of Resistance.

Last night I was fortunate enough to see Kate Tempest with Orchestrate at the Brighton Dome, because a friend was clever enough to know when the tickets went on sale and to get them. Although a friend encouraged me to see her when she played at the Cowley club, I only finally did last year at the All Saints Church in Hove. That venue made the performance more fully what it is: divine. Last night was equal in power, fury, love and the divine. She is not only a poet, composer and artist but an impassioned human soul firing on all cylinders. Inspiring is the word, but naturally no one word will do Tempest justice.

In the past three weeks I have become keen to write, determined to write; I have planned to write, I have seen the blessings in the circumstances preventing me, and I have resolved again to write. Interweaving with this process I have known what to write, wavered, forgotten, remembered and doubted. I have started knowing something else to write, hesitated, diminished and given up. I have not given up being determined to write on the day I had planned (today), but I have given up wanting to know what to write. Hence this post.

Tempest doesn’t inspire me to write, she supercharges my mind so I can see without doubt that it will continue to become ever harder to forget to see the world as a whole, to allow the consciousness of the ultimate bad to permeate all efforts to do and feel good as well as the moments where this level of life is effortless. She is alive and she wants to prevent forgetting.

Right this moment I couldn’t tell you why I want to write or what I want to write, and that kind of makes me want to cry; but only because it is without doubt a symptom not just of my own style of resistance and prevarication, but of the conditions which prevent me from having the right conditions to have done more, sooner, or to have felt more often that I am always already doing, and that at the same time I have done enough. I can be kind to myself, and I can celebrate my achievements. I also know that if I were not careful I might use these emotionally essential directives to become lazy and self-satisfied.

All our little memes are good for only one thing: whatever that is. To the arsehole we say: start being nice. To the doormat we say: start being mean. Be kind to yourself, be a hard master to yourself. Celebrate your achievements, never think you are done.

With this one post I am desperately conjuring a shift in my relationship to this little window. So far it has been no more than a page, a game, a room where I dance like no-one can see me, and then panic when I realise someone taped it. But I tricked myself into taping it. I can load it onto YouTube or Soundcloud and still I can be anonymous and secret. My 3 followers (you still rock) probably don’t live within a thousand miles of me.

With this one post I invite myself to stop being afraid that what I do write, when I have remembered what it is that I have to say, will lead to my alienation and ostracism, to my success or to my failure. It doesn’t matter. None of these things really matters.

Tempest showed us last night what I already learnt from Adorno: you have to know the worst. If he saw her with the orchestra I reckon he would cry twice. First because the orchestra is pared down and modern looking and he would think we had gone to the dogs, and then again because its sounds would grab his heart and rip it out and shake it until he understood what we are all feeling today. There is nothing worse than what people had to feel in Adorno’s lifetime, and nothing is worse than what we feel now about the worst. But usually there is room for hope. When there isn’t, this in itself drives us to build new rooms. If Tempest and Adorno don’t endorse hope for its own sake, they still give it to me. They give me hope that I can externalise feelings we all suffer with in the way that they do, because that is a human capacity.

What I hope for myself is that what I have spent so much energy analysing is worth analysing, and that by writing what I think, I can take part in our collective thought as well as our feelings. With this one post I state my intention: the world will not be the same place as it would have been if I did not write.



About time for another post about sex

IMG_0053Having had this blog for several years and never shared it, I begin to wonder, if I really only want to talk to myself why do I distinguish this from a diary kept at home? If I need to talk publicly about sex, why won’t I be public with it? Given that I started the blog with the theme of de-sexualising adult sleep and rarely talk about that now, does the life of this blog say something about my sexual development?

Since I left my job I have written more (here and elsewhere) and feel more and more that I must write, that I can’t not write. Since I separated from my boyfriend I feel more and more that my sexuality is (to me) an incredibly open-ended and big part of my life. Not simply because I enjoy sex and miss it, or because in a certain sense it has held huge sway over me during my adulthood, but because I want to write about it. I have known this for a long time, I have been clear about it in my mind, but it remains near the bottom of a long list of good intentions and rarely gets dusted off and done.

Why do I not think that when I write a blog about sex that it is worth taking the time to share it with readers? Why do I think that two or three readers a year is a good start and all I can handle? Is this how I see myself as a sexual being too? Do I think that there is (was) only one man on the planet who finds (found) me sexually desirable and that therefore there is no reason to draw attention to myself as a sexual being (not that blogging is a way to pull)? Am I so afraid of a real conversation about sex that I can only pretend to write about it?

If I started talking about de-sexualising adult sleep and now I more often just talk about sex, is that a cowardly abandonment of a difficult or fringe subject close to my heart because there is no-one to talk to about it, or does it just mean that I have just grown up and smelt the coffee? That in the end I heard my own protesting-too-much: much as I still believe that it is a potent subject, in the end I accepted that my interest in blogging about it was a suppressed interest in blogging about sex directly? Obvious, or too easy?

And what do I do with my precious anonymity if I want readers to engage with? Does it matter if people I know read my private thoughts – I have put them on the internet after all. Do I still feel I am protecting anyone I speak about by pretending not to be me? Can I balance being candid with being respectful or do I want to bend the truth, offend and be tasteless, is that why they mustn’t be able to find it? Do I hide my writing doubly from view, because deep down I am both afraid of not being sexually desirable, and afraid of being perceived as too interested in sex?

Impletion? I’ve had enough

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.

Inaction Speaks Louder Than Words

How about this for a glorious irony: you are challenged to write a blog post on INACTION, to mark the end of over two years of not writing anything, and you have to turn down the challenge because an uninvited third party jumps in, sending you prompts and suggestions about INACTION.

So, would that be surrendering to inaction (er, the norm) because I don’t really want to write anything (inaction), or am I making a necessary stand against an inappropriate intervention in the (er, inactive) creative process?

I say the intervention is interfering, invasive even – an underground urge to dominance, triggered by anxiety around the effects of my imminently burgeoning creative output. My prompter/challenger says it is ebullience – a generous, warm interpretation which may even be deserved.

Whatever I do, I think to myself, to move on with the challenge, to break the block, I will not simply write the prompted blog about inaction all about the interfering prompts about inaction. But then again, blogging is most satisfying when you have a fresh experience to masticate. This one has forced me not only to break a long block in a fashion that makes me cross underneath, it gives me a chance to be cross out loud in over 500 words. Cross blogs are amongst my favourite kind.

Naturally I can see why we should embrace contributions from our nearest and dearest to our creative pursuits. A close friend even persuaded me once that it is hugely rewarding to actually allow people, even strangers, to feel that they have added to or enhanced some activity of your own, just because it makes them happy. For example, let a customer for whom you are restoring a vintage car, think that their suggestions are also their original ideas; that without their input you could surely not have done such a good job. “What?” I said, “Not insist on taking maximum credit for everything you knew already?” It was an alien idea. He had to talk me through this for quite a while, but I did get it, even though it made my poor ego-brain whine quite a lot. I have even tried it out a little tiny bit in real life. Is this related to creative input from loved ones? Are there lines that need to be drawn? Clearly my ego is ruling the day here – can’t I burn through the pseudo-obstacle and graciously embrace a few charming words, intended, FFS, to spur me into action.

My Pavlovian response to INACTION as a cue was to reflect on the reasons I have not written for so long – a picture of myself that touches and draws on all aspects of my life from the time drain of my job, to the pressures of parenting, to the importance of allowing the self-healing results of dedicated inner development work to flourish unforced, in their own sweet organic time. Instead these things pale into insignificance, overshadowed by an indignant fury that one of my closest friends, on hearing that I had been persuaded to start writing, chose to wade in and start for me. Whether he was being joyful in his offerings or unconsciously pompous, the implicit message – that maybe I needed some help with ideas to get me started – smarts beyond belief, and well beyond reason or appreciation. Therein lies the really horrible moral of the story: If you don’t get on and act, some other fucker will.

Blogging vs. friends

I have noticed that writing a blog is not unlike having a relationship. If you put nothing into it, it is not demanding, but then when you want it to be there, reflecting something warming and worthwhile back to you, it is empty.

I have to ask myself whether I started a blog because I had a really good idea I wanted to explore with a wide audience (the sleep project), or because I needed more company? Surely both, but what exactly is the company I am looking for in here? And, if I am so confident that my idea is a good one why didn’t I just tell my embodied friends?

It seems we are caught up in a culture where we tend to believe that we all have something totally unique and awesome to give to the world. This is not just because of the media telling us we’re ‘worth it’ (every single individual is a real princess/handsome prince, even if deep inside). It is also something we learn by example – so many real people we know and admire have built, invented and achieved extraordinary things, and there is recognition that every human has that kind of creative potential within them. Why are we average? Because we have not found ourselves yet. Why are we worried about being normal? Because we have yet to defeat our inner demons and set our spirit free. Why is life so difficult that sometimes we can’t even do the dishes? Because we are channelling all our energy into divine self-realisation??

Why write a blog? Because then the whole world will notice the amazing inner you, that your friends probably love you for, but that they can’t really remind you of all the time (that would just be weird). Write yourself out into the open; get a consensus view on your individuality.

I started a blog because I knew my great new idea about experimenting with non-sexual sleeping with other adults wouldn’t stand up to scrutiny for very long in conversation. Each person would have a personal take – experiences of that kind that were either disastrous, or no big deal, that is, not worth starting a movement over. Or perhaps they would psychoanalyse me: “You fancy that guy badly but won’t admit it.” Or more likely: “For crying out loud would you please stop finding new things to do to avoid working…”

No, my friends need a break sometimes, and I need to see what patterns emerge from sleeping together experiences when LOTS of people share them. But you can’t get lots of people to share their experiences in a blog just by leaving it floating in space… and going out of date.

Part of me really wants to stay focussed on my theme, because otherwise, even when I do have a bunch of readers, they won’t be people who are thinking about how to sleep with their friends in order to forge new forms of emotional intimacy between adults, partly making up for the dried-out and soulless ‘community’ that modern Western life provides for most working city dwellers. Then again, I do quite like just writing about what I’m thinking when I am on my own and doing that seems to keep a lot of other bloggers happy.

A solution emerges. I want you to tell me your personal experiences of sleeping with people you don’t fancy, and those you do, without having sex, and about how it felt. I want you to offer your opinions on the idea that a lot of experiences collected up might show us something important. I want you to share thoughts and memories, but no-one wants to go first… so I have to start blogging some much more personal experiences myself.

Logically, I’ll start with non-sexual sleeping with other adults, but that won’t take me particularly long. To keep this space filled I will have to diversify into my other favourite subject – sex. You have driven me to this, so don’t say you haven’t been warned.