I can’t sleep at night out of fear of not sleeping enough. It seems I can only sleep once people start getting up to go to work. As if I don’t want to share my dreaming-time with anybody else.
I’m trying to rest, mourn, recover, heal, but the nothing I’m imposing on myself is stressing me out.
The days-to-come are made of unanswered questions and my heartbeat is trying to fill the gaps by speeding up. It’s not working.
I haven’t breathed consecutive days of fresh woodland air for over six months and my asphyxiated skin is driving me insane.
There’s a heated outdoor pool in the middle of the City. It’s better than nothing. I go and swim. The first time I go I count how many lengths I swim in how little time. I’ve been in the City for too long and the racing front-crawls around me have infected my use of leisure time.
The second time I go I don’t count. I swim in the slow lane, drifting back and forth, the water warm and soft, the wind catching my face, the clouds disorienting me as I lie on my back and I veer off to the sides, my hands brushing past more purposeful bodies.
The clouds have a lot to say. They say:
You are not these things:
You are not your admin.
You are not your achievements.
You are not your failures.
You are not your prospects or expectations.
You are not this aspirational society.
You are not rush-hour traffic.
You are not the nationalities your passports tell you you are.
You are not your tax bracket.
You are not on your way up.
You are not on your way down.
You are not stagnating.
You are not how much you earn, own, or borrow.
You are not you parents’ guilt.
You are not your grandparents’ sorrow.
You are not your partner’s success, social standing or outlook.
You are not what other people think you are.
You are not what other people say you are.
You are not what you think you are.
You are not what you say you are.
You are not your insecurities.
You are not your vanity, pride and ego.
You are not your beauty.
You are not your dry skin, inadvertent hairs and cellulite.
You are not the many screens in your life.
You are not how many friends you have on Facebook.
You are not how many followers you have on Twitter.
You are not your website.
You are not your CV.
You are not your artwork.
You are not these things.
What am I then, I ask the clouds. But the sky is clear again. The clouds are gone and someone splashes chlorine-water in my eyes.
I swim some more and say to myself, over and over: I am not these things. I am not these things. I am not these things.
Am I, then, just a negation? Am I a negative space? Is there not something essentially me? Luckily there are some new clouds in the ever-changing sky and they have some clichéd wisdom to impart.
You are not these things.
You simply are.
I simply am what?
I smile. How self-help-bookish of you, I say to the clouds.
But of course, saying to myself, over and over again, just be, just be, just be, is making me feel better. It is calming me down. The knot of fear at not doing enough (whatever that means) is unravelling and I swim and swim and swim, not nothing, just being…
There are naked bodies in the changing room. I add mine, just another collection of shapes.