When I planned the holidays I’m in at the moment, I never deliberately planned to come on my own. My partner and I pretty much operate on the basis of: “I want to do this thing, would you like to come with?” Sometimes we do take the other one up on the offer, and sometimes we don’t.
This time Thom decided not to come, and to be honest, I probably would have been a bit anxious if he did. Don’t get me wrong, we have a wonderful time together, but I’ll be in a tech event for a few days, and I’d feel like I’m neglecting him.
I like being on my own. I’m a very social person, but I learnt to be on my own years ago, and I grew to like my own company. I also got to know myself, and think I’m quite self aware. I don’t know whether that’s a good or a bad thing, but it’s a fact.
I’m always doing a million things at once, and a lot of people around me think I should “spin fewer plates” and “focus more”. I get where they’re coming from, this is pretty sensible advice.
So since arriving in Oslo, I agreed (with myself) to try and focus on one thing at a time. I always have multiple stimuli going at once, any combination of podcast, reading, music, twitter. So for this week, I thought I’d try a bit of silence. So if I’m reading, no background music; if I’m walking, no podcasts.
It’s been less than 24 hours at this point, and I have to say I’m getting a bit overwhelmed at times.
I find creative endeavours hard. I don’t consider myself a creative person, and struggle to come up with ideas. I’ve read multiple times that for writing and other creative tasks, doing nothing is the best method. Sitting still and observing life around you gives you inspiration.
I’ve been saying to people that I need to get better at writing, at just putting my streams of consciousness into words. At the moment, when writing a blog post, I agonise over every word, and am still unhappy with the final result. I thought by transcribing my thoughts, I’d have a more fluid output that I could then shape and edit. But what do I do when it’s too much?
In my normal environment, writing feels like squeezing words out of my brain like one squeezes toothpaste out of a tube that’s nearly empty. It’s effortful, and doesn’t produce much output.
But now, with all the noise turned off, I can’t say it feels any easier. My brain feels like a hurricane of thoughts, and pinning down words is like trying to pluck a single leaf from the eye of the hurricane.
It feels counterintuitive to say that, as I’ve written all of this over the course of a single coffee, but I feel it only represents a fraction of what’s on my mind. I feel like I can’t ever manage to represent what’s on my brain fully. That my fingers can’t type fast enough. And the fact that my thoughts are messy and non linear doesn’t help matters much.
I think the conclusion I’ve reached is that my idle brain tires me. At the end of the day, keeping myself busy is a coping mechanism. Giving my brain multiple things to juggle helps me keep it in check; prevents it from wandering all around and screaming lots of different things in my ear. So I think that when people advise me to do less, they hope I’ll be calmer and more focussed, and I’m not sure that would be the case.
I have found two things that absorb me completely: good books, and good video games. I brought a Sally Rooney novel with me, and I’ve already polished 60% of it on the first day. I think because I have no control over the story, all my brain can do is keep reading to see what happens.
I don’t know what this post is for, but my brain made me write it. I’ve handed it the reins for now, so I’m just going with it. But I think I’ll visit a bookshop to stock up, just in case.