As ever, I have many thoughts throughout the day that I am keen to write about. The text pours forth in my imagination, smoothly and seamlessly onto the page, musing wittily about some aspect of my life that is relevant, like the books I’ve been reading, movies I’ve been watching, or fun outdoor stuff I’ve been doing. Only the reality is that not only does the prose not really flow, but most of my thoughts are occupied with counting down the hours until I get some pathetic little “me” time in the evening, which I then spend unable to decide what to watch on Netflix, and disappointed that I’ve not only watched all of The Good Place to date, but have finished the slightly mediocre but deliciously trashy Sabrina.
In my head, I do really cool stuff with my life. In my head, I am busy training for Ama Dablam; I practice my violin for no better reason than to be in touch with my inner artist, and think of Thomas Mann. I am quite obsessed with the scene of the mother who plays the violin for her children in Buddenbrooks, and when I was 23, I resolved that was the mother I would be. Instead, I have today done nothing very improving with the kids, most of their activities centring around the sandpit in the shopping centre, and a visit to a toy shop. I ignored Conrad when he wanted me to explain the activities in his book, because I was trying to tweak my CV for a job application.
Life seems so full of little vicissitudes, feeling constantly as if I can get nothing right, as if I am a person whose input no one values; a housewife with a dirty house, sick children and a reheated dinner. It’s not that I was ever under any illusions that I would do anything exceptional with my time on earth; I have always accepted that simply keeping on top of the details (budgets, jobs, your partner’s needs, and of course the huge iceberg that is doing a good job as a parent) is really all that’s required for a contented life. I knew that my time at Merton really would be the high point; a time when the conversations I had with my contemporaries thrilled me with their lack of boundaries and conventions, when we were unburdened with all the doubts that time etches into you, or with the need to fit into the strange social rules of being a family (i.e. everything you do or say with or about your kids is judged by every other mother, as if 50% of the population must suddenly have the same approach as each other).
So, in absence of being able to go climbing to get my visceral fix of gratitude for being alive, I think it is time to go back to The Walking Dead. This is where I can go to remind myself of how great this all is, our food security and overall safety. I can daydream about whether I would survive, whether my skills are useful, what we would do for food, how I would use all my currently imaginary fitness to traverse the landscape, randomly soloing a few E1s, rescuing strangers from the clutch of the marauding hordes with our many ropes, being the heros. Sure thing…