I had this whole post planned about how I’m finding it harder and harder to be philosophical about the shit life throws at people. How, if Stoicism is that handy thing for a writer to shrug on when needed, like a winter coat when the rain starts, then someone’s sneaked up on me and nicked the buttons.
Mostly I’ve been reflecting on how a (slight) bodily infirmity can screw with you Big Time. For most of this year, I’ve been feeling tired. Not just a little bit tired, but sleeping away the entire afternoon tired, fuck-do-I-have-chronic-fatigue tired. Achey. Old. Down at the mouth a bit. It was exacerbated in early June by the Chest Infection From Hell (©) and that walloped me like a runaway train. Mowed me down. I was downright shaky on the old pins at times.
Nothing serious! All this is, apparently, is Vitamin D deficiency. Otherwise I am your proverbial horse when it comes to bodily health. Take a pill a day for a year and you’ll be fine, quoth the GP. Except I am still tired and achey and I have a headache and tinnitus so bad the entire world resonates along with it. And the publisher I sent Gilded Scarab to still hasn’t responded, six weeks later.
And there it is! The point where my philosophy started deserting me.
I have less resilience than I used to. I’m finding it harder to shrug and say “Hey, they say it takes up to eight weeks and you still have two to go. Stop blethering, you idiot, stiffen up that lip and wait.” I can’t say that, because whoever it was nicked my coat buttons, is also whispering in my ear: “Huh. If they liked it they’d have got back to you by now. It wouldn’t still be at the back of the queue. It’s shite, you’re shite and why don’t you turn off the PC, sew on a couple of buttons and then take a nice nap?”
You know, it takes a real effort to turn on the button-thief, stare him in the eye, ignore his soft-voiced I told you so!s and respond with the deeply philosophical argument of a resounding “Fuck you!”
God knows, compared to some of my writer friends, I have it easy—you know who you are and that I wish to god my superpower was the ability to reach through the PC monitor and smoosh you, because you are great and you deserve nothing but love and happiness.
I am LUCKY. I don’t get silenced, I’m not oppressed, I am (in material terms) comfortably off with an assured income and no debt. Hell, that’s so lucky compared to those of you who struggle, and I’m not even going places where poverty, want and war cause real misery and suffering and death. I’m fucking lucky. I know it. But today this is me complaining about little itsy bitsy gnat bites of unhappiness, of things that attack us when we’re at our most vulnerable, who come and steal the whole damn coat and then spit out the buttons at us over their shoulders, derisively, as they dance all over us.
It’s hard to be cheerful all the time. It’s damned hard to be hopeful all the time. It’s even worse when you know the gnat bites are as nothing compared to the shit that happens all around you and you are being a selfish, self-absorbed twat who deserves a genteel kick up the arse.
But this is my new philosophy. I acknowledge that they’re gnat bites. But if I deny myself the gnat bites because of being sooooo far down in the competition line of misery, I’m allowing myself to be silenced. That’s not healthy. So, instead, I’m giving myself the two minutes it takes to read this sorry-for-itself, whinge-fest of a post to wallow in the misery of the gnat bites, and then I’m turning on the button-thief with that very loud dismissal.
And yes, I do feel better. Thank you for asking.
Mind you, waiting is still pretty hard. I do wish the publisher would hurry up!