Wednesday, March 25, 2009

of mice and men

just imagine: i was sitting on a train last week, by myself, reading The Joy of Burnout, by Dina Glouberman (which incidentally really is the best book on the subject), and there are all these visualisation/meditation exercises in there, aimed at getting one in touch with one's inner process and stuff, and just as the train pulls into the station, i'm reading about this exercise where you sit and meditate until an image appears in your mind that symbolises your particular burnout, and then you can take some time to explore that image and what it means to you,

so i'm getting off the train, and the sun is shining warm on my face, and i'm all the way at the end of the platform where nobody ever comes, except, well, the trains, and i'm thinking what the heck, no time like the present, so i plonk myself down right there on the platform in the sunshine, i close my eyes, and i wait. and almost immediately, in a flash, i see running across the inner screen of my mind, a mouse. you know, the regular little brown/grey kind. and it's no more than a flash, really, because quicker than you can say jiffy, the bit of my brain that gets to do most of the talking most of the time intervenes: a mouse, what do you mean a mouse?? don't be ridiculous! clearly, that's not our image! just concentrate, will you!

so i sit some more, and concentrate, and for what feels like an eternity, nothing happens. until eventually, slowly and painfully, something sort of vaguely emerges. Ah! Sisyphus. now we're talking! now that is a real image! condemned by the gods, a man is struggling to roll a huge rock up a hill, and just as he gets to the top, the rock rolls down. man climbs down the hill, hoists rock up on shoulder. repeat ad infinitum. now this we like. it's dramatic, it's scholarly, it's famous. it's us.

on to the next step: the book says once i have the image i should try to inhabit it, actually feel my way into what it would be like to be that image. right. so here i am, still sitting in the sunshine on my train platform, concentrating really hard to imagine what it would be like to be a bloke with a big rock on my back, but for some reason, and despite my best efforts, all can come up with is what Sean Bean would look like, with a big rock on his (naked) back (because of course, instead of doing the 40-day-no-tv-programme, i've been watching Lady Chatterley on repeat for over a month...) (what can i say, it's spring fever...)... and i'm thinking this is not such a useful exercise after all (although quite enjoyable, what with the sunshine, and Sean...), when suddenly... there is this odd scratching noise, right next to my foot.

(of course, all the time i've been sitting there, trains have been rushing past, making a hell of a racket, but one sort of expects trains to run past train platforms, whereas scratching noises... and so close to one's foot...) Startled, i open my eyes. and guess what? right there, by my foot, looking up at me: A MOUSE. a real, brown/grey MOUSE.

(short break to give sensitive people some time to recover their composure)

i almost jumped out of my skin. obviously. breathed deeply. looked back at the mouse and said in a resigned tone of voice: all right, then, a mouse.

so i sat and watched the mouse until it disappeared below the platform. then i closed my eyes again, and it all came to me in a rush: about how a mouse is so nervy, isn't it, it's so small, and everybody is always out to get it, and it's terrible, really, being a mouse, you never get a break, constantly foraging for food, and looking out for all those threats and dangers. Seriously, have you ever seen a mouse relax? or lounge? or just be bored? of course not, it can't afford to. i mean, mice are pretty low on the food chain, aren't they. oh! and those huge chocolate brown swimming eyes, and those twitching always twitching whiskers, poor poor little mouse... being a mouse is nerve-wrecking, i mean do they ever even sleep? the ones who used to live in my kitchen certainly never did... and how fast does a mouse's heart beat anyway? way too fast, that's how fast.

so yep, that's my burn-out. a mouse. and thank You for the subtle hint.

(is the universe being really literal with you too this month? anybody want to share spooky sign stories?)

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

No spooky sign story, but what a great post! It'll probably teach you not to plonk down on the quay like that without prior notification to the local little inhabitants. But really, reading a book called the joy of Burnout must be a spellout for disaster. And if your visualisation of your burnout is Sisyphus you need to change something fast! A burnout should lead you too one of those wooden chairs in the Alps with a blanket over your knees staring at snow in the distance while someone pours you some disgusting alcoholic drink which has passed its fashionable era. And there's Antoine and Isabelle running up the terrace towards you. Right. What burnout?

josh said...

Wow, what a post Véronique!
Powerfull image, the mouse, and something you can work with, cause you're not a mouse.
I can relate to the wish for gloriousness, even in despair let the despair be at least Hollywood material...

Anonymous said...

The universe told me in no uncertain terms to BEGIN. I love it when the universe does that!

Do you remember that time a few years ago that I came to visit and you had a freshly baked batch of angel shaped cookies made with a cookie cutter FOUND that morning and made with all there was in the kitchen (olive oil?) because Isabelle insisted that they had to be made immediately? And me with my head full of thoughts about Fer asking me if I believed in angels... so good, those cookies.

Véronique said...

wow! thanks for the lovely comments.