Saturday, October 8, 2016

Rush, rush, sodding rush - the bane of my life and I wish I could stop it!

If there is one thing I would change about myself, for the better, it would be to get rid of my tendency to rush almost everything. And I have had that tendency since I was a toddler. I remember my German mother telling me always ‘nicht so fix’, because there was a certain haste in everything I did. It led to toys broken within minutes of getting them, new clothes ripped within minutes of putting them on, and later professionally - I work as a sub-editor for whom attention to detail is possibly, probably even, the quintessential necessity - it has meant I really haven’t done as well as I might have done.

You might think that being aware of the tendency is the first step to overcoming it. Sadly, it isn’t. At work I consciously - very consciously - slow myself down or try to slow myself down and largely succeed to ensure that it doesn’t affect my work. Yet I have to admit that to this day ‘slapdash’ is my middle name and if I achieve a task without being slapdash, it is only after a great deal of effort.

Not rushing what I do is a constant battle, one waged from moment to moment, and if you have ever been jealous or worried, you will know how ‘being aware of something’ isn’t half the solution it is cracked up to be. For example, ‘don’t worry’ is pretty much the most pointless advice you can give to anyone who is worried. It’s good advice, yes, but pointless: have you ever tried not to worry about something which is a constant concern? And being told by well-meaning family and friends ‘don’t worry’ and verge on the supremely irritating.

If you have been jealous, whether of a lover or a friend or a colleague’s success, no amount of telling yourself that your jealousy is groundless does much to assuage that jealousy. I’m assuming that everyone reading this has felt such jealousy, although perhaps not everyone has. And, incidentally, I don’t think anyone will truly appreciate Shakespeare’s Othello unless they, too, have been jealous. That’s by the by.

This tendency to rush wheedles it’s way into more or less everything I do: I am constantly looking for shortcuts ‘to save time’, even though it doesn’t matter whether or not time is saved. I usually find myself impatient to get on with the task


in hand whatever it might be and to get on with the next even though there really is no rush and the next is no more important. I very often find it difficult to concentrate (although I have to add that every now and then I can concentrate beautifully, but it is then to the exclusion of everything else).

Where I get this tendency from I really don’t know. I had an older brother who seemed to be able to do anything with apparent ease - he excelled at school when he wanted to, he was a natural artist and musician and generally made me look like the plodder I finally have reconciled myself to be. Sadly, all that came at a price in that he suffered very bad mental health all his life - no one ever said so or made the

diagnosis, but it is likely he suffered from some form of schizophrenia - so perhaps that had something to do with it. But then perhaps not and saying so is mere speculation (and borders on that awful Sunday paper supplement cod psychology which is one staple of middle-brow conversation).

A few years ago, in the late 1980s when I was living in Cardiff and things weren’t going very well, I shelled out something like £60 and enrolled on a Transcendental Meditation course. I was very low, just been sacked from my job and had entered yet another bout of ‘depression’ (why I put that in quote marks I’ll explain later. NB Actually, I don’t in this entry, but if you go to my entry for October 16, 2015, which is what I would have repeated here) and was haunting local bookshops trying to find a self-help book which was quite obviously a load of old cack as, sadly, 99pc of them are. (I did come across a useful book about how to deal with ‘depression’ which was sane and down to earth, though I can’t know remember what it was called.)

The TM course was held over two or three days, and although I didn’t and don’t buy into any of its theory, I did learn a very useful meditation technique which I occasionally use to this day. But I should add that it is very simple indeed and I could demonstrate and pass it on in a matter of minutes, and it was most certainly

not worth shelling out £60 for. But then the whole TM movement was more than just about trying to pass on a meditation technique. (Is it still going? I must look it up in a minute. It does strike me now as something very much of the past, like the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and Moral Rearmament.)

One problem with talking about ‘meditation’ is that it sounds far deeper than it is and is invariably thought to be associated with some faith or other, or at the very least some kind of lifestyle. It seems to conjure up a certain way of living, ascetic rather than comfortable, a diet of porridge and acorns and communes in Mid-Wales where lavatory paper is regarded a bourgois luxury and the first step on the road to Hell. That’s here in Britain, of course.

I don’t want to sound in anyway goofy but there really is something to the notion of ‘inner stillness’ which we often hear about. I know, because I have, though rarely, experienced it, as perhaps have you. But once you have experienced it and know what it is, you are also know what a waste of time, effort, energy and emotion much of what we do daily is. Oh, and as far as I know there’s no need at all to pose cross-legged with your thumb and forefinger pinched together and facing up. That’s only obligatory in LA and Hampstead. The rest of us are allowed simply to sit somewhere comfortably and quiet.

As for the rushing, well, I’m doing it again: I’m rushing writing this so that I can post it, even though there is no earthly reason why this entry should be posted sooner rather than later or, to be quite honest, even at all.

The etymology of words is often illuminating, and the German for ‘to rush’ - hetzen is often also one way to describe racism - Rassen Hetze. The derivation would be from ‘hetzen’ used in a chase as in hunting. Oh well.

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