I forgot to set my alarm. He opened the door and woke me. 48 minutes late. It doesn’t matter, he said, clearly anticipating my panic, there is nothing you have to do. No, there isn’t but it throws my day, I said. Throwing my day. Upending it. I tried to keep calm. Should I cut something out? Not go for my walk, have breakfast out? No, just keep steady. All will be well. You will catch up with yourself. And I did. But the tension has taken root. Hard, in my back, becoming cemented by the questions I am asking myself as a result of this oversight. That is the rub, all this questioning and with no real, absolute answers. There are none. Never, ever.

There is nothing you have to do. But there is much I want to do, need to do. Feel the need to do. My life is full. Full to the top with endeavour. With doing. I am a doer. She’s a doer. And I do, all the time. Whether you could say all was work, I don’t know. What is work? That is essentially my practice. What is it? What is work? And why is it that it is only by working that I feel worthy. Am I just what I do? Am I? Is that all I am? If so, what am I when I am not? What am I when I am sleeping? What am I when I become old, senile?

He forgot to wind the clock. A line from Laurence Stern’s Tristram Shandy. I heard it on the radio as I made breakfast. Neil Dudgeon was playing Tristram. I remember him from the Royal Exchange in Manchester. A modest actor, funny, brilliant at times in his ordinariness. Who forgot to wind the clock? Was it his father, or a servant? Either way it had some bearing on his birth, I believe. I listened with half an ear.

I walked anyway and was glad for it. A warm morning. Damp but warm. The air smelt good and the rain stayed off, even though I went out prepared in his coat. Drowned in it.

I ask much of myself. A juggling act. So much I want to do. So much I need to do. Nothing I have to do but breathe and feel the ground, my gravity.

Let’s see what happens in the nothing. In the none action. Maybe nothing will bring forth nothing. Who knows. I remain curious.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.