So I said at the end of last year that my resolution for 2009, if I were to insist on summing up my aspirations in a single pithy phrase, would be “More words”. There weren’t really any areas of my life that I thought needed a major overhaul, but I wanted to get some more writing done. And I think I’m going to call that a win.
This year I’m going to pick a new aim along somewhat different lines. More words is definitely still a goal, but that’s been a continuous project for some time now, and doesn’t take on any more importance in 2010 than this past year. My new year’s resolution, such as it is, is something connected to my word count though, and will hopefully assist with it in a slightly roundabout way.
It reads thusly:
Stop clutching at spoons.
I should probably elaborate.
The Spoons Theory seems to originate from this site, with the full story in this PDF file. It’s something I stumbled upon online some time ago, and have heard a few other people make casual reference to since then. It’s a metaphor for living with an illness or disability, using spoons as a concrete representation of your physical energy.
The author is a woman with lupus who was trying to explain to a friend something of what it was like to be chronically ill. She grabbed a handful of spoons, just because they were within reach, and handed them to her friend to represent the energy or physical strength she had to do things. Then she got her friend to talk her through every activity she’d undergo in a typical day, and would take a spoon away for everything she wanted to be able to do. It helped to highlight the limitations that a chronic illness can place on you, and the restricted choices that sufferers are forced to make.
Now, I don’t have a chronic fatigue condition. I’m pretty much certain that there’s nothing actually medically diagnosable about me in that area. But I’m not an especially bouncy or energetic person. And I’m deeply introverted, which means that being around other people is always an intensely draining experience. So, because lots of those pesky “other people” keep insisting on hanging around the office I spend forty hours a week in, and often even try and talk to me, I end up being fairly tired in quite a bit of my spare time. This is especially the case when I want to do something like go out to a comedy show or any other gig in London, which tends to leave me with very few spoons left to do much else over the next day or two.
This is why I’ve never yet actually made it to a Skeptics in the Pub meeting. I can’t just amble into London and find a pub of an evening whenever I find I have some spare time. It takes a lotta spoons.
Plus, I’m trying to be a writer, and writing is hard. After all, a writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people, especially when you have to have to do research and look up actual Thomas Mann quotes for things on the interwebs.
My point is, although “More words” has been an admirable goal this past year, and I’m proud of my accomplishments in this area, I’ve spent more time than I would have liked getting frustrated at my dearth of spoons, and berating myself for my subsequent inactivity. And I want to stop doing that. I’m going to keep getting things done – my ambition hasn’t diminished, by any means – but I’m going to try and maintain a better awareness of my limitations. I’m going to let myself have some time off now and then without apologising for it quite so often and so tediously. I’m going to set aside some time for various creative projects when I have the energy and the drive to get it done, and also set aside some other time to say “fuck it” and take the evening off without a shred of guilt.
The theory is that this will make me happier without significantly cutting into my productivity. Let’s see how it goes. It’s not a resolution as such, I suppose, just a new way I’m going to approach things – but if you have anything you’re hoping to achieve in the new year yourself, Richard Wiseman has some tips that might be worth reading.
Happy 2010, people.