09 February 2013

Which stood on rocky shores and kept the beaches shipwreck free

I have a secret to tell, from my electrical well (technically an 18th century stone lighthouse in Wicklow)
Wicklow Lighthouse (The Upper Light), Wicklow Head, January 16th, 2013
It hasn't escaped my attention that these pages have been somewhat bare of late. While there have been the usual excuses of work and other external commitments, and a sneaky trip to Berlin for a few days, the fact of the matter is that I have been suffering from an aggrandised form of writer's block, one that seems to have infected my entire life.

For the last four weeks or so I have been unable to settle into anything. My sleep patterns have been so randomised that the only "pattern" one could see in them is a persistence-of-vision illusion drawn from a Rorschach-test flip-book. I have been unable to concentrate on anything longer than a few minutes, making reading an impossible chore punctuated (and punctured) by the inevitable diversionary tactic of the instant-on gratification of a Twitter stream. The high winds and appalling rain have kept me off of my bicycle to the stage where I now fear my calves would explode in shock at the first turn of the peddles, and my general health can best be described as "sub-optimal", wherein "optimal" refers to a state that doesn't require substantial medication just to function.

I described this listlessness to The Very Understanding Girlfriend as an experience beyond ennui, for I am not paralysed by boredom, and more akin to a Life Block, wherein I just can't seem to focus on anything long enough to relax in to and enjoy it. "Hmmn", she said, after pausing but a millisecond to think, "Has there been anything in your life in the last four weeks or so that may be weighing on your mind? Anything numerically or chronologically related? Any major events in your life that might have put you out of sorts? Anything? Anything at all?"

She is, as usual, completely right.
So the room must listen to me, filibuster vigilantly (I do that a lot on this blog. An awful lot)
Wicklow Lighthouses (The Upper Light and the Front Light), Wicklow Head, January 16th, 2013
I had been, on the whole, rather pleased with the way in which I dealt with the onset of the Big Four-Oh. In the preceding weeks I was a veritable ocean of calm and contentment, rationalising that as I has experienced a good deal of freak-out in the run-up to lesser birthdays, I had long since exorcised all the senescentic angst from my system and was thus able to deal with the onset of middle-age with a Zen-like acceptance, my mind and emotional well-being transformed into a well-raked garden of concentric gravel circles.

For the day itself we retired to the Wicklow Lighthouse, a nearly 100 foot high 18th Century stone tower that stands on the easterly-most point of Ireland. The same storm that blanketed the UK brought gale force winds, torrential downpours and flooding to Wicklow, but all alone in our tower behind meter-thick walls of stone, the storm broke around us almost unnoticed. A better metaphor for my acceptance of age could not be found.

Of course the moment you left the safety of the tower, all hell broke loose. Opening the car door, for example, resulted in the entire contents of the vehicle being sucked out in an inverted maelstrom and scattered across the twisting gorse and bracken like the world's saddest confetti explosion. The Sisyphean yet Clouseau-esque scramble to catch everything before it was carried off to Oz was an exercise of futility in the extreme, its pointlessness matched only by the levels of schadenfreude it must surely have elicited in any distant observer.
Blue canary in the outlet by the light switch (actually the moon in a vaguely Tolkeinesque scene)
Wicklow Lighthouses (the Front Light and the Upper Light), Wicklow Head, January 15th, 2013
Now that the day itself has long passed, and we have left the safety and security of the thick comforting walls, it now seems that the inner calm and peace I so smugly congratulated myself on in the run up to the Big Four-Oh has been sucked out in an inverted maelstrom and scattered all around me, tantalisingly just out of reach. Like Teamsters flexing their muscles with an all-out strike just to remind everyone why they get paid their brown-paper bag kickbacks, my body and mind have had a chat and decided that they were, after all, going to have a major freak-out, and were rather miffed that I didn't consult with them about it all in the run up to the day itself.

Rather than viewing this as a unilateral point-of-no-return redline move on their part, I must believe that this is simply a warning shot, an opening salvo to bring me to the negotiating table ready to strike a fair bargain. I am thus prepared to concede that in future years, I may permit myself to experience a minor freak-out before significant chronological milestones, if it prevents an all-out tools-down stoppage like the one I currently seem to be experiencing. I am a reasonable man, and I am always willing to negotiate.

To make a little Croke-Park in my Soul (if you will).

Hopefully this realisation will get things back on track here at Booming Back, and elsewhere in my life.

More photos of the lighthouse can be found here.

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