I’ve been pondering over what to write about since just before Easter. I have a list of topics I want to write about that I drew up a few months ago when I started this blog. But nothing was leaping off the list and there were other things demanding my attention (buying a house, end of term events, concerts, and the discovery of Quora – you can find me here).
What has been occupying my thoughts consistently over the past couple of months is a slightly odd discovery: I find it very difficult to have fun at the moment.
I’m not entirely sure why this is but I think it is a side-effect of my focus on other areas of my life – especially weight-loss, career change, moving to a new town, getting hold of our finances… There are a lot of things that I have been focussing on, both in and out of work, and many of those things I have approached with a great sense of discipline and determination.
Over the past two years I have increasingly added to my day-to-day routines. To begin with, after my horrific nadir, it was simply finding any focus that related to what I actually wanted out of life. As time has passed, what I want has become clearer and I have been more able to focus on the process of achieving them.
For some of those things, goals have been achieved and new ones put in their place. Weight loss and fitness, for example, have been huge successes. I’ve dropped from nearly 18 stone to 12 and a half; gone from hardly being able to run 500 metres to running 7km or 8km weekly and cycling 40 miles. I’m now able to start putting on muscle and grow my body at the same time as increasing my fitness levels.
Professionally, too, I have completely altered my position and devoted an enormous amount of focus and energy to doing so. My days are non-stop and filled with a huge variety of challenge and excitement. At the moment I enjoy about 95% of my work and certainly intend to continue putting in the energy to improve my position and the status of music not only in the school, but also in the city and the county. Now am I in a position of strength from which I am able to make more far-reaching decisions about what I want.
This has all enabled me to spend more quality with my family which – two and half years ago – was the whole point of making this change. I get to see them every day and have at least two days of quality time with them every week. My children in particular are much, much happier for it; despite the upheaval of moving schools and towns, they feel more secure, happier and more engaged in their lives than they did before. I even think that my wife is happier, though I don’t know how much of that is connected to the amount of time I am able to spend at home…
Reading this back, I feel proud of the work and decisions that I have made; I think that everything I have done in the past 36 months has had a positive impact on me, my immediate family and my extended family.
And yet, I seem to have lost my fun mojo. I have many memories of absolute hilarity from my past; evenings spent with Abigail and my friends during which we laughed endlessly. In my memory, I often used to laugh to the point of tears – often at my own ineptitudes, often at complete nonsense. I have always had a tendency to lose my temper but I also used to have a lot of fun.
I can’t figure out exactly why this might be. And I’ve done some research into it. The thing I keep coming back to is discipline. I have always had strong will and a serious determination to see things through. In the recent past, I have been able to use this to achieve a great deal in a relatively short amount of time. My days are run through my discipline and will power: exercise, planning, work, kids, writing… There are many balls in the air and I enjoy keeping them up. But has the level of focus stopped me from being able to let go? Is that what stops me from being able to laugh uncontrollably? Am I too afraid of what 30 minutes of carefree stupidity will cost me tomorrow?
There is certainly a strong drive to get to a particular point and I don’t feel that laughter is part of that journey. When I stop to think, as I am doing now, it seems ridiculous to have that approach, however. One of the most important lessons I have learned from mindfulness is the value of being in the present; and laughing is in many ways the ultimate engagement in the now.
I’d love to know what other people think. I don’t know if this is something particular to me, or if it is a common feeling. I don’t know if it is particularly linked to depression or high levels of focus; or perhaps it is just an everyday thing that everyone deals with.
Share some thoughts with me and let me know what you think below.