Saturday, 2 July 2022

A State of Doing

I came back to Helsinki in the middle of a heat wave. There's too much going on, my heart is pulled in so many different directions: Finland joining NATO, the reversal of Roe v Wade, Scotland calling for another independence referendum. Not including the multitude of events happening outside my three 'homes'. An avalanche of emotions and worries and wondering what stance I should take, what I can do.

The summer is flying by, there is so much I want to do, so much I should be doing for myself and my family. I'm trying to balance the art of getting things done while leaving time to do nothing, to do the jobs that have to be done alongside the little activities I do just for myself. 

To do. That verb seems to rule my life. Lists to tick off, the pressure of time slipping through the hourglass. Much of the pressure is self-inflicted, but I am the person in the family who does things, and makes sure they get done. It never lets up and I never get a break from the demands of things to be done. Even on holiday on my own, I was on the computer in the morning and evening, sorting things for my children or myself. I couldn't really relax on the trip either as I felt I had to do things, and see places as there was limited time and soon I'd be gone without those possibilities. 

I needed that holiday on my own as the things I wanted to do, needed to tick off my list wouldn't appeal to the kids. I needed to go to Callanish, I've been waiting 30 years, but I also wanted to wade through the boggy sheep fields to the Callanish II and III sites and the Tursachan site further away. I wanted to sit in the wind and write in the shelter of the stone, to take innumerable photos of stones. I went at my own speed, took detours to empty spaces, had hours in the evening curled up in bed with a notebook or computer, so I could come back and do things for other people: the laundry, sort school places, take the kids from one activity to another.

Writing is another thing to do, but it rarely has the pressure of being done for other people. Few would notice if I stopped writing, and no one would notice if I stopped submitting. There are no requirements that I publish, that I produce yet another poem. It is basically free of external demands and is easily pushed down the to-do list. Yet given time and space, it's the thing I want to do the most. In the summer, I make sure I leave time in the morning to write. My child-free weekends are dedicated to it, though I do need to finish taking down the old guttering, weed and water my allotment and a myriad of other things before the kids come back tomorrow. 

I accept that I need to do things. I cannot sit still for long and am always doing something else while watching TV or sitting in a waiting room. I'm better at getting on with things myself rather than waiting for someone else to prioritise jobs the same way as I do. I've learned to ensure my needs fit in somewhere along the line, pushing them higher and higher as the kids become more capable. 

Amidst all that's going on in the world, I just put my head down and plough on with life. I will do it all, somehow: what I need to, what I want to, what I have to. In my own time and way, it will all get done.

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