Most of the time I seem to live in my head, and because of this I am always a little surprised, maybe even a little affronted when my body gets sick.
It is very odd to think of myself as two discrete units, I know, but it often feels that way.
My mind is a little bit arrogant, very egocentric (after all isn’t that what a mind is?) and thinks that it can plan to do things that are unrealistic. I may have a fever and can’t think straight but my mind is saying “I have writing to do, get up and get me to the computer!”. Mind hates to realise that it relies on body to do its bidding.
This year I resolved to be kinder to myself when I was sick, to allow myself to recover instead of pushing through the sickness and ending up being run down for the entire year.
The problem for me is the follow through.
I woke up on Monday feeling very sick. Because I get up early to write, I usually have a good couple of hours ( before I can ring anyone at work) to torture myself with my traditional “Am I really sick? Or just tired?” ritual.
My mind just doesn’t trust what my body says (possibly because mind is a little judgmental about body’s hedonistic tendencies. The eating, the drinking, the sleeping.)
Ah, but body will have its revenge because it can easily play tricks on mind.
Wednesday was a busy day for me. The morning was spent babysitting my nephew, then off to work and then a couple of hours at the Playwrights’ studio. Tiredness and sickness conspired with body to create a reaction to the feedback at the studio that was totally unexpected.
Let me preface this by saying that I am not a delicate flower when it comes to feedback. I do not feel as if it a personal attack, and if it is I can usually side-step it. Also the feedback I received was fair and certainly not harsh – I have received far worse and laughed it off.
But on Wednesday night I felt really low. Into my mind despair slunk and pulled out all the slights and disappointments. The rejections, the failures, the time I was talking to a woman and I mentioned how I seemed to have more success as a fiction writer than I have done as a playwright and she said “We’re not always good at the thing we choose to be.”
I thought of myself as a rubber band, each criticism I get is a pull – when I’m new I spring back into shape; but eventually I will be pulled out of shape until on day I’ll just snap.
Then I thought that maybe I was a wrist under a rubber band of criticism. The first few pings are not so bad, a little sore but pain soon forgotten. But applied again and again, and the skin becomes raw, the flesh becomes bruised and perhaps you draw blood.
The thought that I should give up the struggle and just go back and get my profs certificate and actually use my law degree. I would have a lot more money…
That thought is like a circuit breaker in my mind. Alt, Ctrl, delete. Programme not responding. End programme? Restart computer. I got over myself.
Then mind was free to start planning the assignments I was given at the studio, and by the next morning I was happy to have a direction and my mind was happy to give my body a few more days off to recover.
Because next week we’ve got a lot of writing to do.