The sun comes up like a tiger these cold winter mornings, a yellow-eyed and fierce light that makes one blink. The bare branches of the trees like inky cut-outs. Mounatains sharp and dense black in outline.
Feeling tense and a little unsafe — a troubled Xhosa man with a drug problem has been loitering around the street and watching the comings and goings of householders, keeps coming around to the side of the house or the kitchen window to demand money. I don’t want him carted off to prison, but my feeling is that he is highly aggressive and desperate for money to buy drugs. Very incoherent and agitated at times.
Writing publicity material in between proofreading. My mind turning to porridge. But the end is in sight and hard work is one of the things that keeps me accountable and growing.
“People often say that this or that person has not yet found him or herself. But the self is not something that one finds. It is something one creates.”
- Thomas Szasz
Every now and then I take a break to call a friend who has been sober 12 years but who is now enduring hellish withdrawal from anti-depressants after developing ominous side effects. She tells me howthe writer David Foster Wallace went through agony withdrawing from Nardil and says withdrawal symptoms can last more than four years. Heath Ledger overdosed while self-medicating because withdrawal symptoms from Zoloft left him with intractable insomnia. I know little about long-term psychiatric meds, so all I can do is listen and give as much support as possible. The wonderful thing is that my friend, distraught and sleepless as she is, has no desire to drink and applies the Steps to living through this period of withdrawal. Nothing about medicating mood disorders is simple, and accurately ‘tweaked’ medication has saved many lives. But the juggling act is lifelong and more tricky as we age.
Making a fresh pot of tea and planning a vegetarian supper with quinoa, edumame beans, Swiss chard from the garden — giving myself permission to begin planning the next writing project but I mustn’t write a word of it until I have cleared my desk. The next project is always the enticing dream, the one that may turn out to exceed expectations: metaphors and ideas rush into my head as I pour mugs of tea, get on with what still has to be finished — how important it is for a writer to push herself, try harder each time, break new ground. I fear stagnation more than death.
‘Do we pursue what we want, or do we do what’s comfortable?
For the most part, most people most often choose comfort – the familiar, the time-honored, the well-worn but well-known. After a lifetime of choosing between comfort and risk, we are left with the life we currently have.
And it was all of our own choosing.’ -- Peter McWilliams
Image Mountains Outside, Mountains Inside from Johan de Keuken, found here.