There is so much going on, all of the time. For instance, you might be sitting quietly at home, painting a picture. The TV likely isn’t on. Nobody else is in the room except a cat. The trees sway outside, the sun shines, somebody is parking a car outside and walking away.
The dishwasher hums, a pigeon barrels past, and — imitating autumn leaves — a pair of butterflies slip sideways. Less pleasantly, a spider investigates a hoverfly in a corner of the window. When you notice, you’re glad you’re not that hoverfly, and are torn between pity, disinterest, and a desire not to think about such things.
You choose between different but similar shades of pink on your iPad, attempting to paint them in the right places with a rubber-tipped stylus, and think to yourself, “This isn’t very well designed. How can I draw fine lines with a rubber-tipped stylus squeaking across the glass? Would I be better in another app with a higher zoom? Why do I USE this app?”
Instead of acting on these questions in your mind, you continue to paint in that same awkward app with the same squeaky stylus, thinking about all sorts of different things.
For instance, you’d like to read Cadfael again — it would be nice to read it now. Or perhaps Elizabeth Goudge? On the other hand, it would be fun to watch Inspector Montalbano on TV, or the Fiddler on the Roof DVD you got for your birthday.
You won’t do any of these things because you want to get on with your painting.
You should email S… she’ll be wondering if you’ve disappeared on her again. You… leap off the sofa all of a sudden and trap a small spider in the folds of a tissue. “Go sit over there,” you tell it. “I don’t want you running around on me or accidentally getting crushed.”
S saved your life… you got trapped beneath the waves. Does this mean you belong to her?
Notifications pop up.
Facebook is the worst, pounding away inexorably… “you’re ignoring us again.”
Tumblr says there are five things trending. (Only five?)
Tumblr staff reblogged something you’re not interested in.
Pinterest says there are things you’re sure to love and a pinner who’s your long-lost twin.
Your trolls miss their leader, and there’s a new quest with gold to be won.
Mo Farah loses out on gold in his final track race.
Someone has written a WordPress coffee post.
YouTube has recommendations.
Your sister uploaded photos on Flickr.
Flipboard thinks you should read this article about Brexit.
Do you know this person on Facebook? No?
Police are looking for a jogger. Got him. Let him go. Still looking for jogger.
Drat, wrong shade of pink… wrong palette. Switch down two trays to the inner ear pinks… perfect. Imagine a double-decker bearing down on you — aargh. Imagine living in the dust and turmoil of such a busy city.
What might your life have been like if you’d got the other job somewhere else? Would you be a different person?
As for for the recent drama… what did you do wrong? Was there a misunderstanding? You will do this, that, the other thing… no, you don’t know what to do. You’re lost. But nothing matters, really. Life flows on.
You don’t feel like painting this bit… it’s too difficult. But you must, because you really want to finish this picture. Just put a blot of some sort here; you can paint over it later if you have to.
You drew a horse when you were 14 that looks something like this… perhaps this is your natural painting ‘style’, ha ha. You weren’t able to blend with fibre tips, and this app is not a lot better.
If you were one of Cadfael’s ‘monks’… or in a nunnery, really… would you have been allowed to do artwork? Most likely not. You’d be doing everyone’s washing, scrubbing the flagstones, fetching water. Wonder what it was like in those days? Maybe much like now. You worried about other people and other people worried about you. Spiders lurked in the window and entertained flies.
Your thoughts swirl around, and you don’t always know what to think about anything….
You’re good at this… no, you’re awful… no, more like something in between, and it’s changing all the time. It depends if you like this sort of thing. You wouldn’t win awards, but it’s OK.
For years you would hold a belief about somebody else, such as, “She’s terrible at photography”… then one day get a shock and think “actually that’s kind of good.”
As I keep reminding myself… people don’t stand still. They’re not statues. While they experience life, their thoughts fluctuate, and the things they think they know things about imperceptibly develop and change. People and things develop and change around them, even if it seems still and peaceful with nothing going on.
The next time you glance up, the fly has gone from the spider’s parlour, but it has been replaced by a baby snail. Perhaps it was all the ‘think pink’ energy in the room, though black jagged shadows would be more apt…
I can feel the year’s end approaching.
A couple of years ago, I said something to someone that I later thought a little aggressive, though unintentionally so. I apologized, saying it wasn’t like me to use such phrasing, and he said it was fine… “don’t ever change for anyone.”
I took that as politely expressed agreement that it wasn’t my sort of thing! Whatever he meant, his comment occasionally returns to my mind. Should I change who I am, what I do, how I talk, to suit others?
This isn’t a question to the outside world. Without context, a response would be too black and white… but in the way I mean it, knowing my own good intentions, I realize I shouldn’t.