Thursday, 5 February 2015

Inching Forward

The reason I'm reading a book about Siegmund Warburg is that I'm trying to research someone else who was peripherally involved with him. This research is part of a big project I've been loitering around the foothills of for far too long.

I know so many people who are such epitomes of positive thinking and productive work habits, but I am not one of them. In fact, just thinking about them makes me feel even more daunted and feeble than I was feeling already.

Each morning, I wake up and the first thing that comes into my mind is the enormous task I've insanely decided to set myself - and worse still that I've assured other people who want me to do it that I will complete.

The project doesn't emerge in my mind in an abstract way; it looms quite solidly. In fact, contemplating it, I feel exactly as I did on the two occasions I visited the place we now call Uluru. There it was, this enormous great rock rising out of the desert, absolutely vast, completely strange, utterly unscaleable.

Luckily, unlike my project, no-one - least of all the local indigenous people - wants you to scale Uluru. Being a cowardly sort, when I was there I was only too happy to obey their wishes. Instead of climbing the thing, I walked all the way around the bottom, once in a clockwise direction, on the following occasion in an anti-clockwise direction. And that's exactly what I do with my project, almost every single day.

But in the last week or two I must admit I have occasionally sidled in the direction of the lower foothills of my mountain, although I must admit I've only done it briefly. Still, I've almost managed to knock out a few inadequate paragraphs, which I suppose is some kind of a start.

Or it would be, if it weren't for the fact that fairly quickly I've yet again found myself overcome by a deep sense of inadequacy about the whole (doomed?) enterprise.

My friends and relations insist that the key is to devise plans and to draw up structures, but for some reason doing that only makes things worse. For me, it's more a question of hurling the contents of my knitting drawer - a tangled mass of horribly muddled wool remnants - at the page and then very tentatively drawing a strand out here and another over there. Slowly I begin to rearrange them into a vague semblance of order, but as I tug at one strand, I find another strays from its place. Or else, I reveal another tangle just beneath the apparent new order, a tangle that may not be eradicated without using a pair of scissors. But valuable stuff might be lost in that process. What a horrible, untidy mess.

The whole experience leads me to wonder whether these gentlemen weren't right after all; I blame my parents for forcing an education upon me and causing this resultant nightmare:

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