Thursday, 23 March 2017

Here we go again

It would appear that I have lapsed into a "Moog".

It would appear that I lapse into a "Moog" on a fairly regular basis.

You can probably guess from the sound of it, and the fact that one can lapse into one, that a "Moog" is not a flavour of ice-cream, and nor is it the classic electronic synthesiser. Technically, "The Moog" to which I refer is this one:

The Moog

A particularly gormless dog from a children's television programme of my youth called Willo the Wisp.

Somehow the combination of his name, his lack of brain and his rotund dumpiness sum together to express how I feel when I'm down quite succinctly. And telling BigBear that I'm "in a Moog" is quicker, and more emotionally accurate, than saying "I'm suffering a hint of existential angst, combined with fatigue, and a general dissatisfaction with the direction my life is taking, a lack of motivation to change that direction and a crisis of self-confidence." And fortunately, he understands The Moog. He has been known to experience The Moog himself.

The Moog is not the same as the Black Dog of depression; it is less severe, less all encompassing, and generally easier to shake off. But it still leaves me glum, prone to feelings of isolation and loneliness even amongst friends, tearful and with a sense of futility. It is The Moog.

Now that I've introduced you to The Moog, I can get back to where I intended to start, which was to elucidate on my current Moog...

It's about feeling stuck.

About having dreams and not realising them.

About spending my life urgently trying to get unimportant things done.

About repeating the same cycle of working and cooking and cleaning and eating and sleeping and playing week after week after week and never looking up. Never looking beyond the end of my nose for long enough to make a plan that extends beyond the end of the current week.

About watching my life trickle past and not seizing the day.

About being afraid that even if I lifted my head and gazed to the horizon I still wouldn't have the gumption to do anything.

Some of these feelings have been triggered by the pernicious influence that is Facebook. I know (really I do) that the lives presented to the world on Facebook only bear a passing resemblance to reality, and that most people only showcase the happy, good and beautiful moments. I know that looking at Facebook and thinking that it represents anything other than about 5% of anyone's life is madness. But it isn't other people's apparent perfection that has triggered The Moog this time. No. It's the wide variety of things other people are doing that remind me of all the things I'm not doing. It isn't so much that someone else is doing it that's the problem, it's the reminder that I have dreams and aspirations that I can't or won't or don't pursue that's the problem.

I've written before about the conflict that exists between my dreams and my gumption. So even though I'm gazing jealously at exploring tombs in Egypt, visiting the Burgess Shale, climbing volcanoes, diving in the Red Sea, skiing in the Swiss Alps, swimming in the Caribbean or exploring Thailand*, I'm solemnly planning whether to spend 1 or 2 weeks in the Lake District this summer rather than anything more exotic or adventurous.

I excuse my lack of adventuring on the grounds of having a LittleBear in tow, but I know that's no real excuse. There are plenty of people who travel the world with a small child, or several such, tucked under an arm. My own parents did. My aunt and uncle did. My cousins did. My friends do.

I excuse my lack of adventuring on the grounds of not having time. But that's not really true either. I could book flights to Hanover as easily as driving to Hawkshead. But my own terrible fear of the unknown and unplanned means I can't, because I wouldn't just need to book the flights, I'd need to plan the details of where we'd go and what we'd do (and what and where we'd eat. The stress of what my LittleBear would eat in foreign climes is enough to make me feel sick with anxiety even typing about it...)

I read books and I watch television and I see what my friends are doing, and I wish that I could watch Nabucco at La Scala, or climb Machu Picchu, or explore the Amazon, or see the northern lights, or watch whales, or clamber around Angkor Wat, or hike in New Zealand, or sip coffee in Prague, or sail amongst the Greek islands, or stand on the Acropolis, or tour vineyards of the Loire, or walk along the Great Wall of China. And instead I stay right where I am. And if I think too hard about doing any of those other things, I get close to tears with the sheer terror of organising or undertaking something that doesn't happen within about 5 miles of my own home.

So, in an effort to combat The Moog, I'm trying to talk myself out of this negative spiral. I'm trying to remind myself of all the things I have done, and the places I have been. That I can do this. I can go to new places. I can try new experiences. I can be braver than this.

I've stood on top of Table Mountain and Pic Blanc. I've climbed the Eiffel Tower and the Coliseum. I've explored Borobudur and Kinkakuji. I've swum in the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian and Southern Oceans. I've taken a boat ride with dolphins in Australia and tracked lions on foot through the Zimbabwean bush. I've camped on an island in Lake Victoria, and rafted down the Kali Gandaki. I've watched the Cubs play at Wrigley Field and France play a World Cup match at Twickenham. I've been behind the wire at Los Alamos and to the bottom of a gold mine in the Witwatersrand. I've shopped in the souk of Marrakech and the Champs Elysee. I've walked along the streets of ancient Petra and the Via Appia. I've been beneath the Great Pyramids of Giza and floated on top of the Dead Sea. I've seen the Smoke That Thunders and scuba-dived in the Red Sea. 

By any reasonable standard, I've done an extraordinary number of things already. And, yes, some of them caused anxiety and stress. And some of them I know I wouldn't have done if they hadn't been organised by someone else. And I wouldn't have done them alone. But I have done them. And I can do things like that again. I don't have to give up. I don't have to let LittleBear's life be hemmed in by my fears. I don't have to take charge of every detail of every adventure I'd like to undertake. I can find ways of making it doable, possible, enjoyable, achievable.

But today, now, I'm going to hold onto the memory of the amazing places I've been and seen. The recollection that I am that person, that I have nothing to be envious of, and that being a forty-two year old mother of a 5 year old child does not have to mean I allow myself to stop and hide from the world.

I am PhysicsBear. Hear me squeak in a slightly less daunted way than I did yesterday.

* If you feel you resemble one of these descriptions, please don't feel that I don't want to read about what you're doing, or that I'm in any way criticising the fact that you're doing it. I'm just envious. Envious that you have the get up and go to get up and do. Envious that you're doing the things I'm not doing.


  1. I don't hang out on facebook much. I find coming here generates enough feelings of being left behind at parenting.

    1. I'm not entirely sure how to take that... I shall assume it's a compliment, rather than a dig at me showing off my awesome (ha!) parenting skills.