It was nothing but it threw me completely. An easy error, one that is made all the time, I suspect. They double-booked us, both in the studio at the same time, for the same guest. I’m honoured, he said. I left as he had got there first. We’ll both still get paid, and I suddenly had time on my hands. Nice. So why the bemusement? And the sun was shining. It just set the tone for the day. Unsettling. I make plans, order my time, my hours, my minutes so completely that one slight change upends me. Capsizes me. Like it did yesterday. I tried to get back my composure, sitting on a park bench in the sunshine, my eyes closed emptying myself out. But the space bothered me, set my thinking about nothingness, about blankness about having nothing to do. Nothing I have to do. Nothing I want to do but sit.
He wrote about how he sat on a park bench for a year, just thinking. I close my eyes and listen to the sounds around me. I can hear the two lads playing tennis on the courts below, robins and blackbirds singing, a lawn mover, the voices of people walking past me, a couple with a dog, three schoolgirls, and the screech of a seagull. I make myself invisible. Do they see me? Close by man is revving the engine of his car.
I am scared by the nothingness and yet I long for it. How is that? I want to stop. And yet, working shapes me, makes me worthy, worthwhile, doesn’t it? What is it about working – what is it all about once you take away the need to earn? That work ethic is so ingrained. Even on holiday I struggle to stop, to implode to do nothing. But it isn’t doing nothing, he said, you were meditating. I was. At times I really was. Do you think it lowers my blood pressure?
I listened to Anthony Trollope’s The Warden yesterday with the lovely Tim Piggott-Smith as Mr Harding. Would it really be so bad to give up the eight hundred a year for the one hundred pound living at Grantley Parva? I am split, torn in two. Torn between peace and busy-ness, noise and silence, wealth and frugality. My dreams are full of the battle. The pull of it. I want to go home, I told them. Don’t go, they said, they implored. A man needy and clinging, and a child. Don’t go.