L’Chaim!

Some time back I wrote about inertia briefly, on the way to talking about other stuff. The thing that stops you getting things done – it’s the constipation of action. Nothing happens. Someone wise once wrote that discipline leads to a beautiful life. Also a beautiful body, bank balance… you get the picture. But knowing it and saying it isn’t the same as doing it. Still, as long as you feel guilty…

And with one long walk she was free.

Sad thing is, even having fun means taking one or two actions, even if they’re just – getting off the couch, going online to find out the number and booking for a show. Or going out to the garage and getting on the bike. These are simple, really small actions, but for lack of taking them, I have missed out on an entire Summer of e.g. beach excursions simply because it was just too much trouble to go and wriggle my toes in the sand which is as soft as talcum powder, while the rest of me toasts to the colour of strong tea. Come the Winter, I will not have anything to show for living in such a sunny climate. There’s a delightful and stress-free train-ride to the best beaches in Cape Town, from where I live.

But weekend after weekend goes by with me pottering about, doing the laundry, dusting, tidying, mending, filing… honestly I’m going to lose any pretensions to being a hedonist any day soon now. And because these things are relaxing, they spread into late afternoon, with my inner hedonist quite sulky by the end of it all – fairly impressed with the lovely space which has become great to work in and to be in, but… starving for plain old fun. Sometimes the Inner Nazi is given the boot because I want to relax dammit. So then nothing at all gets done. No housework but no beach either because the latter won’t happen till the former is done. It’s enough to make any hedonist hang up their hammock in despair and smash all the champagne glasses.

I often write about my Inner Nazi. She drives me off the couch and into the studio to get on with my work so the deadline holds no fear. She reminds me when I’m on Facebook that I have spent more than enough time connecting and it’s now time to produce some work; she compares these days to those days last year when there was no work to be had in spite of all my efforts; and wonders why I’m not at my screen day and night. So – let it be said that the Inner Nazi is alive and well and doing her job. When I was little, I read one of those moralistic little folk tales of which German storytellers are so fond – it involved two men in a conversation. One gazed thoughtfully at the other, working hard while he himself was resting under the tree. Man under the tree wondered why the man in the field was working so hard. ‘Well, said the man in the field, ‘I have this slavedriver who never lets me rest – I have to be out here working every day for as long as it’s light, and then I may go home and eat and sleep.’

‘That’s terrible. How do you stand it?’

‘Well, his twin brother comes around from time to time, with a cart full of food from the market, hangs clothes in our wardrobe, and even brings my wife jewellery and perfume sometimes. The kids are always so happy to see him because he brings them toys and sweets too, and we party until it’s time for him to move on.’

‘Well perhaps you could introduce me to the brother but I really don’t want to meet the first guy.’

This story, simple and obvious as it is, (and a little out of date now, what with passive income being all the rage) often comes to mind when I hang something new in my wardrobe. But another insight has come to mind now, that there needs to be a balance here.

I need to revive my Inner (Opposite of the Nazi). The personification of this merry partymeister is Guido, the father in ‘Life is Beautiful.’ As much as the Inner Nazi has her valuable function, so does Guido. In the movie he pops up in unexpected ways to woo his beloved with an exuberant ‘Buongiorno Principessa!’ and prepares wonderful surprises for her.

Guido is going to be part of my life from here on – I’ll make time to get out there and have fun. It’s not hard work, it just requires a little preparation and strong intention to overcome the deadly, sticky inertia, not to mention Sieglinde (I.N.) who’s had it all her own way up to now.

As long as she’s had her fair share of sweat, Guido will be welcome to take over the shift and restore some balance. While I’m lying on the beach, hiking up the mountain, riding my bike, or laughing with my friends –  even lying in the hammock all day and reading – I now have someone to deal with that vicious little whisper from the Brutal One.

Go, Guido! Buonjiorno! You have the mandate to create fun and to insist it happens. Just don’t corrupt Sieglinde; I need her exactly as she is.

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