Just things

Another Monday, another day at home working. It fees no different to countless others. I’ve had my coffee, I’ve caught up on the news, and I’ve read a little. Now I sit at my desk in the backroom, and Rigby, as usual, is prone on the dog cushion behind me.

It’s a sunny morning. It will be a sunny, warm day. I’m reading emails and catching up work-related stuff. At some point, I’ll join meetings and make calls. I’ll send my emails. I’ll worry at solutions.

It feels like it has been ever thus. Other than lockdown – no small thing – the only thing that’s really changed is the seasons, and me.

There are times I wonder how I’ve managed. For probably the last two months, maybe more, I’ve really struggled. I’ve made reference to this along the way, trying to explain it. In a simple sense, I take no satisfaction from my job. I keep doing it – after a fashion – but I have no belief in the work I do. It’s just things.

It would be a lot easier if less was expected of me, but I’m loaded up with work, and some of it pretty full-on. It’s the last thing I want. It’s my heart’s desire to sit in the corner, unnoticed (how different that is from times before!). If I have to work, then I want to do it quietly, and with minimal contact with others. Perversely, circumstances have demanded virtually the opposite.

I wonder sometimes how I’ve managed. In retrospect, it feels as if I’ve been walking the tightrope, fearing that at any moment I would plunge into the abyss below.

There’s a sort of pattern I’ve observed. Take a typical week. I reckon for three days of it I’m of limited effectiveness. I hate to admit it, but I feel anxious and frustrated and impotent. My mind is clouded. There are practical, legitimate reasons for some of that, but most of it is in me.

I’ll dream then, and the dream will reflect work but in a different context. It’ll take up the themes but present it on a different stage. The dreams are infuriating. I feel like I’m going around in an infinite loop I cannot escape. I’ll wake, exhausted from it, but sometimes it acts as a kind of circuit-breaker. It like it burns out the frustration, leaving the way clear again, briefly.

For about a day and a half, I become very productive and efficient, making up for much of the wasted time. I’ll have some clarity in my mind. I’ll get things back on course and moving forward before I lapse back into the cycle.

There’s no doubt that I’m well below my best. Sometimes I wonder how I can get away with it. And not just get away with it – at times, being applauded for my work! It feels surreal. Hang in there, I tell myself, one foot in front of the other – and if I make any progress, then it’s through a combination of raw brainpower, experience, and stubbornness. I feel like an athlete who doesn’t train but gets to the finish line by cunning and raw ability. There’s only so much of that you can get away with, and I fear being exposed as a fraud.

I’ve been tempted to open up and tell my superiors. It would be a lot easier if I took a step back and looked after myself, but the opportunity hasn’t really presented itself. And if I haven’t been forthcoming, then it’s less about being ashamed and more so understanding that if I’m unable to do the job, then others will have to – and with everyone so busy I don’t want to make their life more difficult because I can’t cope. It’s a sense of obligation – and pride – that stops me from doing that.

In the end, I do cope. The proof is that I’m here still and the odds are that the work will be done. I can make it to Christmas, though no further.

What happens after? Hopefully, the break will restore me, but I have to address the fundamental issues. I don’t think I’ll ever get that belief back in what I do. And though I may again feel a measure of satisfaction occasionally, it’s not enough to sustain me emotionally. What choices do I have, though? That’s part of the problem. I feel locked in.

The solution, I suspect, lies in other parts of my life.

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