a life creative
From here, the road of others’ lives looks so cushy at times, though I know it’s anything but.
I’m always bemused that others think where I am, that My Glorious Life In Tuscany, should be in capitals because it is obviously filled yearlong with rolling green hills and sexy moustached contadini dressed in flat caps and jaunty braced pants who siesta and sing O Sole Mio in olive groves as the sun presses its molten bosom into the horizon. I’m sure if you squint through slatted fingers you’ll find just that.
My life is a normal one, it’s busy with earning a living, it’s one that sees feste and friends, and it also entails months such as January and February, which are bitter and dark and devoid of nights out and gently nodding sunflowers.
Even here in My Glorious Life In Tuscany I’m not immune to intermittent bouts of inertia and screaming blank page/canvas terror, bureaucracy languor, and I surreptitiously envy the seemingly Cushy Road of others…their Time, for one thing, along with Motivation, Action, Perseverance, Momentum, Self Confidence, Actualisation and Reward.
However, this is my choice and would I really want Cushy? I had Cushy for years. Cushy’s nice on Sunday mornings in winter, Cushy will be nice when I am really old, yet if these last 27 months have taught me anything it’s that I can never forget that I am still growing, and that I don’t grow well in soft soil.
Unfortunately, it seems to be a point I forget like a goldfish and one I come back to only when I am forced to sit still and turn over my own turf – usually when I’m sick and at those crumbly Gates of Sookville or its dark and turbulent sister city Hormone. This last week I’ve been sick in bed with a second hand Chest Infection I picked up from Airline Hell. I haven’t been out of the house once since we returned from our work trip to Australia last Wednesday. Laid out, bored titless, hacking till I drove out the Etruscan in search of a bed that doesn’t rock and wheeze, and till my lungs stretched wrinkled like an overinflated helium balloon.
This forced germ-induced house arrest had me planning Lists Of What I Need To Do, and then I did none of it and watched five movies, the whole Outlander series, a documentary, and read a novel cover to cover instead.
I did rake over a few things in between, stuff I already know but needed to remind myself. So here are my bacillus-addled epiphanies to myself.
• Speak up. Say what’s on my mind, tactfully, carefully, kindly and elegantly, even if met with dismissal / cold shoulder / reproach. If someone has let me down, me saying “oh that’s OK,” when it really isn’t ok to myself is akin to me shooting myself in the proverbials, making it ok for the next time. To say that OK and then go home and rant about it is passive aggressive and passive aggression is icky and bitchy and I don’t like it in others so why should I be hypocritical and do that to others (and myself)? Having said that, a good bitchy rant with the Etruscan over red wine and chestnuts is a cathartic wonderland.
• Don’t be peevish (see above, and below).
• No one owes me anything, and I don’t owe anything to anyone – explanations, motivations, reasons, justifications, news, gossip, nuthin’. A firm, well-formed and smiling ‘no’ is fine, and “No” is something I’ve not ever been good at, though I’ve had to use it a lot living here. Sounds more authoritative with an Italian accent.
Why is it such an issue, the negative? Is it because it’s so soft, cushioned between ‘ah’ and ‘sorry’?
Maybe a good old NEIN!!!!! would work best.
• Have no fear in letting people and projects go. Don’t drop them, just let them fade away: If I haven’t heard from someone in a long time and it’s requiring all my effort and thought, stop; if there is no longer a pulse in a project then it is dead in the water, let it sink. If I have made extended effort to contact and to communicate without response, it’s a done, done thing. This should be easy to recognise but too-often I mistake a wind-fanned ember for the sun.
• Listen to others, with grace, without preaching – I can’t protect my loved ones or make their lives easier by preaching my ideal of safety.
Excepted: Crooning “Drive carefully” and screeching in broken Italian “Don’t fucking text while you’re driving!”.
• Let the past go…Let go…Let go of the fucking thing!!! The past does not contain me anymore. The minute it becomes past is the minute I apply to it all manner of my own fictions. Then it becomes something else. Depending on the tale I tell myself, adding muddied clods of my own design to a memory either forms the tizzy golden poplar fluff of nostalgia (nostalgia, by the way, was treated as illness in Victorian times) or it builds a shrine to trauma. While memory is a self-help mechanism and decidedly useful, especially when we were hairy foragers and needed to learn that a particular vibrant mushroom turned our bowels to water, it has this wacked out unreliable narrator thing going which frankly isn’t useful in the least.
So to sum up, all humans are weird and complicated: I don’t need to envy others their cushy-seeming roads; better still why not enjoy (though never gloat) my poppy-peppered, olive oily, general good health and fortune.
To those who have read my navel gazing thus far, I want to know: What are your flu epiphanies?
Writer | Artist
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