If I were any good at drawing I’d be able to do you the perfect diagram of what progress is like for me. It’s pretty much like the above: just when you think you’re getting somewhere and start to go ‘Aha! I see where this is leading!’ you find yourself not so much on a conveyor belt as a waltzer-cum-trapeze swing which lurches you in unpredictable directions, up and down and round and across and through… and my theory is that, in the immortal words of Chicken Run, this is about all of us. There are aspects of the self which lie hidden and forgotten until they surface, and in order for a person to progress, the whole self must move – which in my case involves the amalgam of complicated twists and turns detailed above. And so it is of late: for some reason over the last few days I’ve come on by leaps and bounds; I’m like the child at the head of the group who rushes on and keeps yelling to the others to catch up. But the others take their time. They need to explore a bit more, they have to be sure we’re going in the right direction. They consult maps and compasses and take a long, tedious time discussing it.
In the end I suspect that the self is not one person but legion, and that at any one time we happen to choose whichever part of us suits the situation we’re in and forget about the others for a while. But they will not be left behind; sooner or later they’ll make their presence known and we’ll have to let them catch up. It’s very trying, when you want to be cool and famous, to have to accommodate the legion of ruminating Quakers that live in your underclothes; you begin to feel like the young and sprightly leader of a coach party of shambling octogenarians. Yet there is nothing to be gained by chivvying them along; they will go at their own pace no matter what you say.
Actually I’ve no idea where I’m going with this post. But I’m sure one of the guys back there will have an idea. Hey, you guys! Where am I going with this? Anyone?
Aha! I sought inspiration from Proust and came across this, a questionnaire which he filled in twice in his life. I’ve missed out some of the questions but here are my answers. You might like to do it for yourself – it’s much better than those silly Facebook questionnaires.
My favourite virtue – compassion
My favourite qualities in a friend – sense of humour
My chief characteristic – complexity
My main fault – lack of physical courage
My favourite occupation – writing or socialising in the pub
My idea of happiness – it’s better not to have ideas but take happiness where you find it
My idea of misery – losing my family and friends
My favourite hero/ines in fiction – Pierre Bezuhov and Elizabeth Bennett
Try it for yourself. And don’t forget my 500th follower will get a FREE ebook of poetry or, if you prefer, a guest blog spot.