The wind has risen in Londres, and no nook or cranny is entirely still. Standing in the sun with the wind in my face is exhilarating. I can feel winter approaching, but it is a natural and friendly process, happening at precisely the right time. I have been recovering today from a difficult day yesterday – an anniversary of bad memories. I got in touch with my family, many of whom were upset. But as the Dancy Meditator reminded me, there is nothing wrong with being upset when bad things happen. We have a tendency to want to encourage people out of being upset, but is that for our own sake as much as theirs? Perhaps being upset is just where they need to be now.
Last night I went to the Field for the first time in a long time. It was good to be back among the warm buzz of people, some strangers, some well-known. The Red Flash, who is most responsible for pulling the project back together, was busy trying to recruit people to help run it. There genuinely are rewards to the work involved in such projects, but it can be hard to persuade people of that. Even I am staying out of it until the new year.
I have spent part of the day contributing to online debates in certain circles I am part of. This is a strange process in which text accumulates and it is hard to be sure if knowledge does at the same time. While I’ve got much out of the online world, I can’t deny the de-personalising aspects of it, the lack of emotion carried in words, or the excess of emotion, the lack of eye contact, the coldness. The future has not yet learned to live in the future. I wonder if we’ll look back in a few decades time and wonder at the sheer lack of etiquette, the faith in words, the talking past each other. One would hope so. The season has changed too fast and we have not yet made skates for ourselves.
I am sitting writing with a satisfying glow in my body from a day out of Londres with Dr Guerrilla and friends. The autumn air and autumn colours were reviving and the company good. The last few weeks have been packed with projects and events and meetings and documents, so even being analogue and not trying to get anything done was relaxing. But anyway, there’s nothing so good for the mental health as getting your body and mind in the same space. We were however haunted throughout the walk by the A3, a highway so broad it was impossible to cross without a bridge. The roads around it were clogged with people who live in big houses driving around to have fun, or possibly not have fun. It was hard to tell.
On Friday I met the Scientist after work, not having seen him for some months. His life is working, children and running. He seems happy enough with it. He does not know his neighbours but does not want to. This is the Londres in which we will attempt to build renters power. I am under no illusion about the scale of the task. Yet building collective action in an atomised world strikes me as one of the most worthwhile challenges there is right now.
At the same time the oracle by the Tamesis still has me thinking about my motivations for taking the actions I do. It is not simple, not right or wrong, whatever the motivations. But there are moments when things I have chosen to do cause me tension or anxiety. It is good to think then about whether the rewards of the path you are on are worth the pain. But perhaps one could also consider that if a walk in the woods is enough to get rid of my stress, it isn’t hampering my life too much. Still, to be more relaxed in the everyday would be good, and that goal is one reason to continue my conversations with the oracle.
It has been a quiet day in Londres for me, which is to say I have had a little more mental space than the last few weeks. It was pleasant to have the time to bake and cook. Londres life makes it very easy to go days at a time without eating at home. I sometimes feel tension accumulating inside me, and realise that it is nothing pathological, but rather my body quite correctly telling me that I have been driving it to do a little too much. I try to listen to it a little bit more than in the past.
Listening to my body is made more difficult by my involvement in the renters power project, which can suck up effectively infinite amounts of time. It has its rewards, and I am enjoying in particular the chance to help structure a large organisation, but it would be easy to let it take over. And for what? Some drive for respect? Some need for attention? Nothing good, that’s for sure, despite the worthwhile end.
This afternoon I had to dig out some old documents, and in doing so discovered some old writing. What I have written about over the years has not changed a lot, but the approach has changed. I now try to write from my interactions with others, rather than from debates within my head. I am often surprised, looking at old writing, at how often it appears to me now that my focus was too narrow. I was too caught up in what was directly before me, or what was immediately inside me. Perhaps this is a common state, but I suspect I have been more afflicted by it than many. I have always tried to look outwards, but not always successfully.