Monday, 7 February 2011

On All This Woe

I've not updated my blog for a while now. I'm sorry about that. The reason for my absence is that as soon as January ended I spent an entire week dancing and singing around its grave. With that now well and truly out of my system, I've returned. With a vengeance.

All apologies aside, back to what I wanted to discuss. I should begin with the admission that I talk too much at work. I can't help it; I'm encouraged, in fact, by the two colleagues I share a desk with, who are capable of chatting just as much as I am. We've come to the conclusion that the days fly by if you fill them with meaningless, inane chatter - so much faster than if you fill them with meaningful, productive work. Yesterday, our topic du jour was mantras; the phrases we live our lives by.

My boss' was something about not wasting time worrying about what other people think of you. The other person offered 'live each day to its full potential' as his choice. I thought both of these efforts were a bit wanky, if I'm honest, and prepared to wow them with the (Shakespearean!) phrase that I have adopted and refer to in times of need:

"All these woes shall serve for sweet discourses in our time to come."

Suffice it to say that my mantra was not greeted with the awe and appreciation I thought it deserved. One argument was that I was just trying to sound cultured and, in doing so, sounded pretentious. The other - and the one that really hit home - was that it suggests that the present is always going to be crap.

And when I say 'hit home', I mean it - it really did. It was a revelation, of sorts. I've realised that living my life like this is like waiting in an airport for a connecting flight - I've left the comfort and warmth of the past, and I'm waiting to arrive in a distant and happy future. In the intervening period, I've resigned myself to putting up with discomfort, impatience and boredom.

Those of you who have persevered and managed to stick with this blog for a while will know that I'm fairly obsessed with the past. This manifests itself in the music I listen to, the fashion I appreciate and the places I feel most comfortable. Give me Motown over dubstep, dusty old books over new technology, a Victorian terrace over a skyscraping penthouse apartment. The past holds an endless fascination to me - both my own history and the histories of the places and people around me.

The future I envision, meanwhile. is a hazy ideal, a land without debt and without trouble. It's what's left after I unpick the tangled mess of issues I convince myself I'm currently burdened with. It's calm and it's peaceful; a Shangri-La waiting at the end of a long and winding road. My vision of a perfect future is also, of course, hugely unlikely, but I wouldn't look forward if I were being realistic.

What this boils down to, I suppose, is that while I place huge importance on what's happened in the past and spend many a wistful moment imagining a warm and cosy future, my present is passing me by. It's sneaking by almost unnoticed while I'm waiting, while I'm looking back or daydreaming. It's as if every day is an obstacle, something to be wrestled with and dealt with as soon as possible. I treat each day as I treat my emails - I can't wait to flag them complete.

I know it's a bit late to be making resolutions, but I'm scared by the fact than if and when I do reach the light at the end of the tunnel, I'll have nothing to look back on except decades of seriousness, concern and worry. I think I want to have some more fun. I'm sorry if the tone of my posts of late has been somewhat tedious and difficult to get through. But there is an end in sight; I've decided that I've had enough of the woe - bring me the sweetness. Now. Please.

PS Congratulations Lauren on being 20sb's featured blogger for January!


  1. I totally know what you mean. I dwell on the past, and live in my beautiful future too much - so much that the present is passing me by! I really need to kick it into high gear now and start enjoying there here and now!

    I'm off to quiz now - wish me luck!

    And I have already said it a thousand times, but I too am so proud of Lauren. Yay! She's representing the TASG big time.

  2. I feel like the Shakespeare quote isn't really about how the present is crap, but how we all sit back and laugh about our "woes" over time as the things that used to bother us later seem silly.

    It's not pretentious, either!

  3. When I was in high school my fave quote was, I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons and maybe we'll never know most of them. But even if we don't have the power to choose whee we come from we can always choose where we go from there.
    Yeah, I hated living at home.
    I like Alex's interoperation. Next time someone drops a hard P on you, just be like pretentious, moi? That'll shut them right up!

    My montra right now is probably autonomy means doing your own dishes.
    Or if you wanna make a lot of love you gotta spill a lot of milk...if youknowwhatImean.

  4. I love that Romeo and Juliet is the Shakespearian play you picked to quote and use as your mantra. I wonder if that means anything as well. :P

    I never actually interpreted it that way, I thought it meant that the woes we have now, shall someday be a "sweet discourse"- something to look back on and learn from; to find the "sweetness" when we talk about it- as we are too involved in it to notice anything but the woe. That's what I always thought, especially because it's R+J (I know it means that they'll someday have their sweet discourse and instead they die, damn tragedies) but if you see how it's regarded as some epic love story- all the woe is a "sweet discourse" in a way, no? I don't know if I'm making any sense. I fully admit to being a pretentious cow, by the way. Have you heard me speak? I drop pretentiousness.

    I suppose of all the Shakespearian plays, Macbeth is the one that hits me most (yes, you may psychonanalyse that!), I relate so much to his ambition (not as bloody thirsty though). The quote, "Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then, is heard no more. It is a tale, told by an idiot; full of sound and fury. Signifying nothing" is probably my favourite Shakespearian quote of all time.

    I don't know if it's my mantra exactly, but it resonates. If I had a mantra, I guess mine would be want I want said when I die: "She left the world in a better place than when she came in".

    Unlike this dreadful comment, you are never tedious.

  5. by "drop pretentiousness" I clearly meant "drip pretentiousness".

  6. Yeah, I don't see that as pretentious either, and I agree with the definition of it meaning being able to one day look back on the past and learn from it, and possibly even be able to last.

    I too, have issues with living in the past, wallowing in past mistakes, and hanging on to every hurt and woe. Surprisingly though, since starting those letters to people in the past, letting it all out, I'm finding it easier to start moving forward.

    And your posts are never tedious and difficult to get through -- I love the way you write and express yourself.

  7. I can totally relate to this - sometimes it's really easy to get caught in that gap between the past and the future. I like your email analogy. I treat my days occasionally. Like, I know where I've been and where I want to go, but I don't always know what I should be doing in the present moment.
    Anyway, good luck on your new resolution. Please stop being woeful. Make today the greatest thing since yesterday.

    And RE: Your PS: Thanks!

  8. Long and Winding Road! Found it! I don't suck (anymore).

    ***sorry that's an inside joke...sorta***

  9. I think you need to hear my mantra, that I've been saying to myself since 2004: Life is what you make it. Kind of sums up your post, doesn't it?

  10. Risha said it..Macbeth! :) And then there's this Chinese proverb "If you have two pennies left in the world-buy a lily with one,and a piece of bread with another."There.I splurge!And its quite right,the ancients said so!

    It's neither pretentious nor pedantic.You've got to live by what you fancy,and by fancy I mean what you truly believe in.Or even just in passing.

    I love your wordmanship,heh.

    I've been an arse not checking back here for ages -and thats probably why your blog is calling me a Stermin,whatever that means.

  11. Not being funny or anything, but the 7th is along time ago. When's the next post due?

  12. Tom, live in the here and now. And enjoy every minute. You just don't know what's round the corner. People in Spain are so good at it... X

  13. Unlike Flubberbean, I am being funny about it. Where are you? I miss you terribly.

    Give us a post.

    Or, sod everyone else and e-mail me. <3