Tuesday, 30 August 2016

The dangerous desire of wanting to be yourself

Being true to yourself is all the rage. It comes in flying colours, golds and bronzes caught in the midday sun as we fall, endlessly fall, towards a shimmering, unreal ground below. There will always be a parachute if we need it, there will always be a way to turn our falling into flying, if only we will be ourselves.

And if we fall? Then we will get up again. There is no giant splat and short-lived moment of realisation; there is only the fantastical idea that we can stand up each time, climb out of the cartoon hole we made and still be ourselves.

Being ourselves is an end unto itself, quite divorced from the reality of paying bills and dealing with the mother-in-law. It is the moment between seeing what we want and getting it, stretched out into a mind-blowing contortion of light separated into all its colours. There is no mediocre in Being Yourself, there must be only greatness.

It is a kind of bullying, then, to be told to Be Yourself. We must excel and to truly excel, we must latch on to that elusive inner Us. No matter how much money you make, or the sheer, gut-wrenching sacrifices you submit to in every loving day - none of that is important next to Being Yourself.

Sometimes you can really achieve it, too. There are people living the dream who always knew what they wanted and let nothing stand in their way. Oh joy to be told of them while you are cleaning out the cat litter tray or going to Tesco for the third time this week. The inspiration we are meant to glean from the absolute success of others is mollified by the very real difficulty of living a normal life.

The trick we have to learn is to be ourselves all the time, while being everything else too. Learning to live the dream while living undreamlike lives is the key to proper happiness. If we could truly live the dream, with sparkles and fairy dust and a castle, would we be happy? Maybe, but it would be a strange life, cut off from all the things we used to do.

Try instead to keep the dream with you and see what can be done. Let's be a little mediocre about it. Let's pretend that we are not superhuman but merely ourselves and that the dream, also being part of us, can be a little super and a little human at the same time. Keep it close and nurture it.

Do not listen to those easy tales of loosely-gained dreams without keeping a pinch of salt handy. Everyone tries a bit, even if it does sound easy. Everyone gives up something along the way, even if they have to look back to see it. Take some wisdom with you for when you need to listen to this kind of thing, and still...

Do live the dream and try to be yourself as often as you can. All the yucky parts of life are so much easier if you are already yourself and not also struggling to be someone else. Be boring, if you like, be obsessive and bad in the mornings, stay up late and grouch when you go to work, get stuck in traffic and forget the peas on that third visit to Tesco.

Be normal and still dream. That way you get to be yourself and be happy about it at the same time. And look forward to the times in between all of it because that's where the dreams live.

And monsters too, but that's another story.

© Amanda J Harrington 2016

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Saturday, 20 August 2016

Closing the curtains

It's not the done thing to close the curtains during the day.

You close the curtains when people have died, or because you're too damn lazy to open them in the first place.

When it's hot you're supposed to keep them closed so the sun doesn't get in - but still most people don't do it.

I love having the curtains closed.

I love sitting in the living room and feeling like it's all my space, that not one part of it needs to be shared with anyone on the outside - and that includes brief passers by.

I love having them closed on dark days as well as sunny.

I don't close them to keep the heat out, I don't close them because someone has died and I don't leave them closed because I'm too lazy to open them in the first place.

I close them, or leave them closed, and sit in my quiet room with the outside world far away, even though it's right on the other side of the glass.

Today it rains and it feels like Autumn, though it's only August. The rain pours down the window, beating onto the windowsill and I have the curtains closed so I can enjoy it. The sound mirrors the curtains themselves: it encloses me, brings up a soft wall between me and the rest of the world.

It reminds me of days spent as a little girl, tramping the streets of my home town with an oversized umbrella and my curly dog, Sweep. We barely met anyone and I would go through the puddles, watching the rain fall past the umbrella, watch my welly-booted feet get wet when the rain blew sideways. I was enclosed and separate under the umbrella, having little girl adventures in a town I knew off by heart.

That's what it is with the curtains too, an adventure. With the world firmly kept outside I can live my world in here. I can take out the book or open the laptop and be alone with my adventures, swept up into other places where there is no real life waiting by the door.

Some days I don't get to close them at all and I need to pick up real life and go on. When those days are over and the dark is coming, I close the curtains with a sweet sigh of relief. It is done, I can shut it all out again and the place I am in is my own.

There is nothing so homely or exciting as a lamp-lit room with the curtains closed, when that room belongs to you.

© Amanda J Harrington 2016

My books on Amazon
My own website for books and tuition

Find me on Facebook and Twitter!

Read my Aspergers blog
And my fairy blog

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

The living world

Nightmares and dreams are enough but sometimes imagination makes it seem as if the sleeping world seeps into this living one.

My bed is against a wall, so only one side can be used. That's the way it's been for years. I know that, it's not difficult to remember, it's a proper, all-the-way-through fact.

It was a restless night and I finally woke up enough to have a drink of water. It wasn't quite full dark, that time before dawn when everything is turning grey.

As I came back into my room, filled with the pre-dawn gloam, I glanced at my bed and there was an instant where everything stopped.

At a moment, a point in the middle of the floor, with one foot down and one foot raised and my eyes fixed on the very part of the wall where the light hit it just right -

to my pre-dawn eyes it seemed as if a person sat on the other side of the bed, their back hunched, their face hidden, hands resting either side of them on the bed and legs unseen over the other side.

I took it all in as my foot wavered over the floor, holding my breath, filled with the kind of dread you only feel when something completely unusual and impossible is there right in front of you.

Then as my foot came to rest on the boards I moved that infinitesimal distance and the spell broke. It was the light on the wall, the shadow from the curtain, the deep well where my covers bunched up when I climbed out of bed. It was nothing.

There was no person sitting on the other side of my bed where the wall left no space. There was only my bed as I had left it, no hands on it, no unseen face hanging forward as if they too were very tired and in the middle of a restless night.

I breathed out, a catch in my throat, having been unaware of trapping the breath until I could let it free again.

Climbing into bed I fixed my eyes on the spot where the person had sat, then physically shook my head and determined to recognise the real world, this one time if none of the others. There was no one, I was alone and the wall still held the place where the bed came to an end.

I slept then, only for an hour, and was still alone when I woke.

© Amanda J Harrington 2016

My books on Amazon
My own website for books and tuition

Find me on Facebook and Twitter!

Read my Aspergers blog
And my fairy blog

A story somewhere