I've Got To Get On
I was going to start this post of with a wise quote about hurrying, but I got bored looking through them. They all said more or less the same things. Rushing is for losers. God favours the slow. I suppose then, as The Vaselines song goes, ‘Jesus, don’t want me for a sunbeam’ because I am very impatient.
Right now, for example, I’m using the delete key more than the space bar on my keyboard, such is my haste to ask you, what is the point of sports talk shows? The match has finished, move on with your lives! And people who read out the bullet points from the giant projector screen we can all see. Or hand out a printed copy but then also read it aloud, slowly. When people give an overview of what they are going to talk about before they start talking.
Stopping to do up my shoelace. Stopping for a wee. Even worse, stopping because someone else needs a wee.
Real talk, sometimes when you are talking to me, I am listening, but I am also thinking, please hurry up. Just give me the bones of it. What’s the point of the conversation. Is this story going anywhere? What do you mean, there is a pretty route, but it takes longer? Why would I do that? Go for a walk, without a dog, just for the sake of a walk…are you mad? Why would you just brush your teeth when you could also be cleaning the toilet with the other hand and the floor with a towel all at the same time? Filling in forms online… Signing up for a loyalty card in a shop… waiting in a returns queue.
I have to psyche myself up to phone the doctors. The pre-recorded long spiel about why I should not be phoning, then the hundred-hours wait for a receptionist to pick up and then the reciting of my date of birth, post code, phone number, ethnic minority, pronoun preference. The exact location of every freckle on my face. My days are a relay races. I hare along with a baton, desperate to win. Win what, I don’t know. If a job takes two minutes or less, some bastard on the internet told me, then do it immediately. Turns out, you can do an awful lot in two minutes or less if you go really fast (wink face emoji). You can while away entire days on two-minute jobs. I’ll just do the cobwebs, water the plants, clean the floor, sort out this charity pile, tidy the garden, wax the table. Oh, it’s bedtime #PassesOut
Did you know that some people take time out to focus on their breathing? Like, they actually stop everything else to notice the air going in and out of their nostrils and filling their bellies. Even though this is something that the human body does all on it’s own, like a robotic hoover. They imagine waves and sunshine and third eyes opening. They know eight different ways to inhale and exhale. I only know two; panting and snoring. I am the White Rabbit. Late to nowhere. Out of breath and muttering nonsense. Sweating my way through the day. A bruise on my shin from barging into the table, arms too full to see. A cut on my finger from the glass I dropped. Hand cream in my hair, no time to find the conditioning spray. These shoes will do. I’ll just use this bag. That coat. Whatever is quickest. No time for lipstick or concealer. Am I wearing a bra, and does it really matter? What matters?!
I have no glottal stop. Too busy talking to pronounce my t’s and g’s. By the time my agent and editor have read my new book, I’ve written another one. I text too fast. Talk too fast. Think too fast. Say yes to fast. I am a Scalextric car with one speed, flying off the causeway and crashing into the wall.
I want my desert before my main course, and I’ll take it to go please. I’m in a hurry don’t you know? I need to dash off, spilling tea and forgetting my keys or where I put my parking ticket because I can’t slow down. Can’t stop to look at that Monster High Dolls house my daughter has just spent all day making. Can’t appreciate that sunset out the window. I need to hoover the dog hair and load the dishwasher and spray Purdy and Fig essential oils on the sofa and make all the beds like a hotel room.
My most used sentence is this: ‘I’ve got to get on.’
It's something my aunt used to say. I’d want her to play endless rounds of patience with me or make me a den from the clothes horse and her old sheets, or let me wrap her up in bandages, or put all the buttons in the tin in colour order with me. She’d do it for a bit and then say, ‘I’ve got to get on, love.’
My aunt sat down at 11.00am and 2.30pm. Tea and biscuits (arrowroot), then coffee and cake (Battenberg). In between, she did jobs. Washing-up, pegging out clothes, tossing the crusts from my toast up the garden for the ‘dickie birds’ (who never got it because the dog got there first). I would watch her, as I turned the tiny tap of the water butt, or poked my finger in the seedlings and drew soily swirls on the table, wishing for the magic arrangement of clock hands that made her stop. Sometimes I’d ‘help’. Walking the Ewbank hoover up and down the long hallway or flapping a yellow cloth over the dusty photos of myself missing teeth or growing out another fringe my dad cut for me. It was fun for a bit, but then the world of my childhood imagination called me back again, and the brown swirls on the carpet turned into snakes and the only safe place was great grandad’s old armchair, but I couldn’t walk to it. I had to hop there with the duster over my eyes. My aunt lives on the wind now, and that armchair sits in my house. I plump the cushions daily and adjust the throw, but I do not jump on it. I do not sit in it at 11.30am or 2.30am and drink tea or coffee. I do not reward myself with two biscuits.
I’ve been over revving my engine for so long I fear I’ve outrun myself. Left myself in some service toilet on a motorway stop.
I’m sure all this says a lot about me. That I’m anxious, impatient. Hot-headed. A busy fool. That I can’t see the wood for the trees. I get it, and I want to get off this hamster wheel. I really do, but I can’t stop peddling like hell on the road to nowhere. Where is the bloody brake pedal, the emergency stop cord?
Maybe it is this. Last spring, high on steroids, I dug up my garden and planted a load of expensive flowers. It looked great for a week and then they all died because I was in too much of a hurry to read about soil and sun positioning. I wanted Kew Gardens. What I got was a wasteland of dried-up petals. This spring, I stopped to ask one of the people in the garden centre for advice. I even listened to some of what they said (for how long can one person talk about leaves?!). I dug bigger holes. I filled them with water. I fed the soil each month. The plants have doubled in size. Survived and thrived. I am growing courgettes from seed. I go and check on them every day.
I leave my phone indoors. I don’t do anything except walk around my lawn, admiring my work. A blackbird comes daily for the worms that my watering turns up. I have learnt that if I move too quickly, he flies away. And so I stay, frozen in place. He nods at me, and I nod back. Close up, his feathers look like velvet and his beak is as yellow as butter. He flits through the mist of my sprinkler, fluttering his wings. And I don’t know how long I stand there, frozen like a child playing sleeping lions. A minute, ten? For a moment, time is not time at all.
[Disclaimer: This post was written by a Virgo (humble, self-effacing, industrious, and practical; gets the job done). Inferior stars signers, please don’t feel lessened or belittled by us. We can’t help it, and neither can you.]