I Want More Life And Other Dilemmas

It’s Friday again and I’m standing at the border between my two lives.

I live a double life of sorts. Monday to Thursday I am a trainee teaching and behaviour support: I am devoted to productivity, eat batch-cooked lunches, try to rise on time and go to sleep early (skipping out on sleep has major consequences), manage my moods by reading stuff online in my lunchbreak. I occasionally attempt some self-reflection – journaling on the Tube or writing the odd poem – but by and large those habits don’t stick; I can’t read books, I have no time and if I tried it on the Tube, I’d spill my tea on them or something. I do my physio, stop by the pool, wolf down a dinner, try to squeeze out maximum efficiency out of my hours, try not to be too stressed, watch a show to wind down and go to sleep.

Then Friday comes.

Friday is my twilight zone. Actually it starts Thursday night. Thursday night I will either go out or attempt to Achieve Something Meaningful, which may mean staying up until 2 am JUST BECAUSE I AM NOT TEACHING NEXT DAY AND I CAN. Friday morning I will go swimming; let the water take my weight, beat my body, create some pleasant lassitude in my muscles. I come home, eat some food, and – this is important – I don’t have to do a goddamn thing.

I do occasionally clean; I write a blogpost; I may cook or go out; but I don’t have to do a goddamn thing.

This guilt-free zone protects my sanity. Saturdays tend to be busy – I’ll go to a gig, be in a gig, sometimes both. Tomorrow there is a march and a birthday party, with a date thrown in the mix. Sunday I’m wrapping up some podcast editing of yore (there’s nothing more horrible than unprocessed old footage or audio!) and of course hosting the quiz. Tonight is the night I get to myself.

And I. Want. More.

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There is a necessity to the way things are in my life right now. Or what feels like necessity. A led to B led to C and I made it all the way to L; is it worth finishing the alphabet? I’ve got a job that is incredibly engaging (god knows many of my previous “support jobs” were very repetitive and dull); I’m good at it and developing within it. A part of me thrives on the speed that I can achieve on Monday through Thursday. Yes, the work made my physical problems escalate, hence the constant physio/swimming/should-I-do-pilates-yoga-or-both convo, but that was a long time coming; at least they higher-ups at work are supportive. It’s nice to have a steady paycheck. And yet. And yet.

I want more life. I want to see friends without trying to convert it into doing artistic work together; I want to have time for both. I want to afford the luxury of messing around with writing, or songwriting, or dancing. I want leisure; I want creativity; I want my first thought not to be about how to turn things into an ambitious project. I want the speed of exciting things, but with maybe slightly less stress that the two hour daily commute and actual risk of injury that my current dayjob provides. I want to stop having to cut off bits of myself to fit within my life. I want to design a life that I can live, not just survive.

I want rehearsal rooms; I want comedy gigs, poetry gigs, music gigs; I want to take songs out of my head that live there, homeless, in-between; I want to take a honest look at that essay book I’ve got knocking about there, that play I already assembled a team for. I am a fountain of creativity and I have no space, choking a little, even though rationally there is only so many hours; rationally a lot of effort right now goes into re-routing my body from its path to further injury, into creating a healthy and sustainable muscle structure. Between that and the work, even though I want to write and create, I simply need to sleep more than I need to write; my body needs to heal, but meanwhile my brain tries to eat itself. The balance isn’t stacked in favour of creativity right now, and it hurts.

I guess there are Fridays. On Fridays I get to take a breath and rest. But the second part, the part when I take another breath and embark on my full creative journey, that’s the one that doesn’t fully happen. I may need to reframe it; I may need to rethink it. “I’m not standing still, I’m just lying in wait….”

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