Falling into (and out of) the predictable trap
Further up the platform I’m stood on looking at this view, a clump of tired commuters are waiting for the 1918 to Clapham Junction.
The air is warmer than it was the last time I made for my alternative route home a couple of weeks ago. The temperature might be unseasonal, but we’re used to it now. The oncoming Easter bank holiday is being signalled by something other the unexpected treat of clear blue skies and warm sunshine. A panic over petrol.
The same impulse as brought me to Shepherds Bush platform two weeks ago, has brought me here today. I need something to snap me out of things. I need to look at things from a different angle. I need to break out of the loop.
To describe that loop as nothing more than a grumpy mood would be unhelpful and dismissive. That would do me no good and deny you the reader (potentially) the point of this particular post.
It isn’t a grumpy mood which sees me taking my alternative ‘emergency’ route home. It’s faulty wiring. Faulty wiring brought on by something very simple and totally unavoidable.
Before anyone starts jumping to conclusions and thinks this post as evidence of my descent into mental ill-health (or any future employer considers it proof that I’m a loose canon that needs giving a wide berth), don’t jump to conclusions, read on.
One of my stated hopes at the beginning of this year was to effect personal change. To improve my fitness, change my diet and do a spot of mental ‘rewiring’ such that old thought patterns were gradually replaced with newer ones.
As individuals we are a mass of complicated interdependencies which our brains can’t really decipher. That’s why we end up forming a reflected view of our own personal world generated by people who know we can’t deal with complicated concepts and tailor their copy accordingly. I speak of course of journalists. Let’s throw bloggers into that mix too, just to make it fair and square.
If we (by which I really mean ‘I’) were to consider those inter-dependencies then we’d appreciate one of the earliest pieces of advice our parents used to drill into us: breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
Actually, the advice probably needs to be fine-tuned a bit really. Yes, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so don’t think you can get away with skipping it. Also, breakfast isn’t a cup of coffee. Or two. Or – especially not – three. And most important of all, breakfast becomes ever more important if you inadvertently skipped breakfast and lunch the day before. Yes, a warm chicken liver salad supper is good and healthy, but it doesn’t in any way make up for two previous missed meals. You only have yourself to blame, etc etc.
I recall this now because until twenty minutes ago, I had overlooked it. The fact was that yesterday lunchtime (the first meal I missed in the past 48 hours) I don’t remember feeling hungry. If I had I would have eaten. And if I had eaten that would have made up for now having eaten breakfast earlier on.
The same thing applies to this morning. I wasn’t hungry. So I didn’t eat. I didn’t especially feel hungry at lunchtime today, but I did because I was … wait for it … eager to get away from my desk.
And that’s where we pick up one of the inter-dependencies.
I genuinely began the day in an incredibly good mood. The sun was out. The air was cool. I was all relaxed. And I was going to blog about that alone. And yet by lunchtime I’d noticed I was getting a bit tetchy. Emails suddenly took on a life of their own. Some of the messages I sent were (when I read them back later) just a little bit pompous, it seemed to me. Google Chrome kept hanging. The Internet was just slow (and it would be wouldn’t it? It’s doing it just to piss me off!) all the time. And things were generally not happening at the speed I wanted them to.
When I’m in that mood (and often I don’t register it until I’ve descended into the next stage), it’s just a short hop into the self-fulfilling, self-loathing world which propels us all towards moaning about work and longing for a mid-afternoon glass of wine (I’ve not touched a drop since Sunday, by the way). Everything becomes a trial. Everything looks a bit raggedy around the edges. The list of things to do gets longer not shorter. And my hands feel all dry. And then when my hands are dry , I start biting my nails.
This is not a search for pity. Leave pity on the front door step where it belongs like cold-caller selling a two hour seminar showing me the path to salvation. This isn’t about wanting pity.
This is about underlining something I often forget. Something mother taught me. Something mother annoyed me constantly harping on about when I was at university and it seems something I still forget now as I approach 40.
Breakfast is terribly, terribly important. Don’t skip it. Nothing bad will necessarily happen if you do miss it. Your body will soon tell you when it finds itself in an emergency state. But really, the day will be so much easier if you just eat breakfast. Every day.
And if we’re in the business of effecting personal change – just like fitness or diets – it is surely the case that time will be well spent if we concentrate on the small things like reversing negative thought or – more pertinently – following important if often dull routines like mealtimes.
In some respects, this post is probably worthless. A waste of time. After all. I consider anyone who spares their precious time to read this to be considerably more well-adjusted than I am. Considerably more in-tune with themselves.
But, when I factor in the things I’m often surprised about in day to day life, I begin to wonder whether maybe there are more people making similar mistakes as I do. Wouldn’t things be a bit better if all we resolved to sort out the small stuff and break out of the loops we all descend into?
Shoot me. Please. I’m beginning to sound like one of those motivational speakers. Or worse, a life coach.