I always thought a ne’er-do-well was somebody who was a bit of a worthless rogue (which it is), but it also means a person who is idle and lazy. Which lucky because I’m not changing the title now and that is what I want to talk about. It’s an oldie but a goodie, but you know the saying ‘the less you do, the less you want to do’? Well, that’s how I feel sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, I barely ever act on my compelling desire to do absolutely nothing (I rarely ever get the chance), but sometimes I would just like to know what it would be like. Did you ever just want to lie face down in a field for a little while? Seriously – prone…in a field..? Because I do.
I don’t like to talk about my job in this blog because a) if I told you exactly what I did I’d have to kill you and b) that’s another me that doesn’t really belong in my writing world. But I’ve been in health-care for nearly twenty years and it’s a tough job at times. Some clinicians have it tougher than me, admittedly, but what I do can be very pressurised. And I’m not exactly reclining on a chaise-longue, eating grapes off the vine in my home-life either. I’ve got kids so I know what it’s like to never sit down. I was watching my brother-in-law running around after his nearly two year old toddler the other day and I thought, ‘I can’t imagine having to do that’ (as I sat on my arse casually observing). But of course I did do that, my life just got easier as the children grew up. And don’t forget – I was in my twenties/thirties when I did my running-around-after-a-crazy-toddler stint. Now I’m in my forties, I just wouldn’t have the energy. I think that’s why it is biologically harder to have kids the older you get, your body would be less and less likely to cope with the rigours of that lifestyle in later life. Wait…I’ve just this moment had a thought; I’m fairly likely to be a grandmother one day, which means I am probably going to have to do the running-around-after-a-crazy-toddler stint again. Now don’t get me wrong – I’d like to have grand-kids, but the thought of re-living that hectic lifestyle when I’m in my sixties has brought me out in a cold sweat. Seriously, I’m getting up from the computer now to get a bit of air. I feel a little bit sick.
When I recently completed and published my first novel (which took me ten years to achieve), some people said to me, ‘how did you find the time to do that?’. And my jocular response would usually be, ‘I just neglected the children’ (which I didn’t, by the way, but I’ll say anything to get a laugh). Sometimes I wonder how I did manage it (I’ve written three books in all! Go me!) – because even though my kids are older now and my job has more family-friendly hours, I still struggle to find the time to write. There will always be housework or cooking or ferrying kids about that takes precedence over writing – sometimes I feel I am just stealing the time. I actually feel guilty about it. Maybe it’s because I enjoy writing and there’s something about being a mother that instils this attitude in you that you are not allowed to experience any self-centred pleasure ever, ever, ever again. You’ve had your fun when you were younger; you’re not a priority anymore.
The trouble with me is, the indolence gene was past down to me from my lay-about father but I choose to override this because, like the rest of society, I have responsibilities which I take seriously. I spend my life procrastinating about all the things I need to do but haven’t done yet. I worry about this weekly blog every weekend and whether I’ll find the inspiration or the time to get it done. But you see I’m pretty damned good at doing nothing – Olympic standard if I’d been allowed to put in the training. But I never get the chance. Sometimes I just wonder what it would be like to take my foot off the pedal for a little while. I dream of sitting home on my sofa and having nothing to do. I remember watching the movie ‘Castaway’ with Tom Hanks and his basketball friend Wilson once, and all the time I was thinking, ‘I could make that work’. Isn’t that terrible – to actually consider the positives of living on a desert island; doing nothing and seeing no one? No, if I think about it, I spent a whole bank holiday weekend on my own once (without husband or kids – I can’t remember why) and after I’d finished watching all the costume-drama series’ I could think of, I nearly drove myself insane with the boredom and isolation. I was talking to soft toys at one point. My family enjoy going on adventurous and strenuous camping holidays, but I’d really quite like the opportunity to sit on a beach and read a book for a week. I never get that opportunity, by the way, but I’d like to try it sometime. Because whenever we get back from a break, I’m always more exhausted than when I left.
I know it sounds like I’m grumbling unnecessarily but I’m not really. I’m just actually allowing myself to consider out loud the possibility of being idle. But there’s a lot to be said for being industrious too; it keeps the mind and body active, and it probably extends your lifespan. You often hear of these people who’ve had extremely busy careers but the minute they retire, their health goes downhill or they drop dead. So why do I look forward to retirement so much? I remember being a student and having to catch a daily bus to get to my community-healthcare placements ten miles away. I spent the entire journey looking out of the grimy bus window at the well-to-do houses along the way and glancing in at the elderly people in their conservatories relaxing. And at the age of twenty-four, I actually wished that I was retired, and that I could be in their position. So in essence, I was jealous of old people who currently enjoyed a life of leisure but were much closer to death than I was – ‘lucky buggars!’. How can you wish your life away like that? And I’m ashamed to admit it, but I did. It wasn’t so much that I just wanted to sit around doing nothing; I just wanted not to have the stressful existence I had at the time.
I don’t know, maybe I’m just one of those people who is never satisfied, always wanting what I can’t have. And if I ever do get to retire and get out of bed when I please, wander down to the local newsagents to buy a paper, walk the dog…I expect I won’t be terribly satisfied with my lot then either. I’ll moan about how bored I am, I expect. Maybe I should just be thankful that I still have my health and the strength to carry out the busy life that I lead. That gift isn’t afforded to everyone. And this post is probably just stress talking, I have a lot on my plate right now. Anyway, just be glad (or disappointed – it could go either way really) that I managed to pilfer the time to write another blog this week. Next time you may not be so lucky (or unlucky – it could go either way really).
NB: No children were neglected in the making of this blog.
NB(2): Ooh, I have one of my favourite bloggers guest-posting for me next weekend so I’m off to lie face-down in a field! Woohoo!