“My attempt at conversation was feeble at best. We talked about the weather and when the TV programme ended I asked, ‘What’s next?’
‘You could run a bath and then go to bed. You could paint your toenails, mess up and start again. You could hang those photos you’ve been meaning to for months. You could fall in love. Finish a book, instead of starting three more. Or you could cry as if God has decreed no more rain will fall from the sky. You could think about death and whether it puts an end to loneliness and feelings of the flesh. You could make me another cup of tea and sit with me. Or you could do as you always do and ignore me.
What’s next?’ She countered.”
Dee (a novel in progress) by Kristiana Reed
I’ve never been very good at sitting still. I need a distraction to pull me away from the centre of every thought which floats through one ear and out the other.
I wish this meant I was productive. It doesn’t.
I sit and scroll for hours; so much so the weekly report from Apple about my screen time makes me sick. Sometimes I write, read or make lists I’ll never complete. Sometimes I just need to have books and note books around me to make it look like I am far from still because still is the worst thing, I could be.
Still means being present, being honest and being open. It means mindfulness, self-awareness and forgiveness. It is loaded with positive connotations yet when it fires it’s a musket ball of thoughts, wishes and wants and the gnawing nagging in the base of my skull about the things I need to do.
This, is what my brain does when I am still. It talks. Endlessly. And it always asks the same question: ‘What’s next?’
It is never about abandoning current plans. It is a game of tetris; what’s next in my job, what’s the next book I am going to read, what’s the next poem I am going to write, when am I going to write next, am I doing this properly, what about the book, when am I going to finish the book, did you take your anti-depressant this morning, when are you going to go for a walk, when are you going to do yoga, when are you going to watch Masterchef (the fact this figures at all is depressing in itself), when are you going to mark those essays, are you going to have a bath, should you really put the washing on tonight or wait until tomorrow or put it on but forget it like you knew you would and just rewash it tomorrow like you knew you would have to, have you fed the cat? What’s next?
I’m rubbish at tetris. I’m rubbish at sitting still because it is the most tiring thing in my day. And yet, on the worst days, listening to a loop like the one above is gratifying; because it is all the proof you need that you are not good enough. That’s rubbish. That’s my experience of sitting still.
There isn’t a conclusion to this, I’m still figuring it out. I suppose it fascinates me how a species who learnt to belly flop, crawl and then walk, are not yet evolved enough to hold their heads up high.
© Kristiana Reed 2019