Sunday, 14 September 2014

Tired and in reflective mood

A while since I wrote; life has been busy and work has been hectic. 

I'm pretty tired today.  I went down to Dorchester and back yesterday, to go to the wedding of two very dear friends in Tolpuddle. 

It was a lovely wedding, and because I was booked on a train home fairly early in the evening I was able to leave before the drinking got too serious or the crowd got too overwhelming.  I even got to have proper conversations with two interesting people (as well as the bride and groom, obviously!), which is quite satisfying for someone who looks at a mass of strangers at a social event and wants to run away. 

It seems that my long-term policy is paying off gradually, over the years; accepting that I am shy and that's my nature, and then finding things I can do, like have a chat to one person instead of trying to socialise with everyone.  I envy the sociable; all sorts of things in life must be easier for them.  But I am what I am and I too have my strengths. 

I remember the glory days of Playcraft and how much I enjoyed get-ins and get-outs, and after-production parties; I had no problem with those crowds, but that was working with people I knew, doing something we all loved, and making whoopie afterwards.  A party with a crowd of people almost none of whom I had ever met before was a different matter entirely.

There was a time I would have ended up backing out of going to my friends' wedding altogether, because of that.  But as I say, I have been working on this for a long time, this business of finding coping strategies for being an introvert.  And it is working; because instead of hating it, I'm genuinely glad I went. 

It was a lovely wedding.  The bride and groom were radiant, and very elegant.  The weather held fine, dry and warm and mostly sunny, the church and the reception venue were both lovely, and the wedding ceremony itself was touching, a nice blend of very traditional and some individual notes.  The flowers and other styled things all looked great.  There was a lot of very pleasant bubbly to drink, and plenty of olives, cherry toms and cheese straws to eat with the drinks.  I had to leave before the sit-down meal started, but I got a Cornish pastie for the train back, so I was okay.  It was nice.

My other big bit of news is that I have an interview on Tuesday for the new role that my current one is metamorphosing into.  The job is actually changing in exactly the way I would have liked it to, if I'd been able to cherry-pick the things I'd like to do more of.  So I do hope that interview goes well!  The restructure at work is slowly beginning to get sorted out, at least in our section.  It's a protracted business, though.  Some departments have only just begun on the consultation stage.  But, as I was trying to explain to another friend a few days ago, it's surely better in the long term for this to get a bit dragged-out, but be done properly, or at least as well as it can be, than for it to be rushed, and possibly bodged, because the people at the top making the decisions are scared of missing deadlines they themselves set.  Whatever happens, in a situation like this, junior people like me are going to feel scared and uncertain.  At least this way we can have some hope that the final result will achieve some useful goals.

In the meantime life and work go on, steadily, and it's good to have plenty to keep busy with.  I've just acquired a nice task, drafting text for a new leaflet and searching out a range of possible illustrations.  Just the kind of thing I love doing.

There's been one piece of really awful news, though.  A colleague from the Jodrell lab, a gifted scientist who was highly respected in his field and much-liked at work, has died very suddenly.  Nigel was a lovely bloke, and I'm so grieved for his poor family.  He used to run our Christmas choir.  It just won't be the same without his enthusiasm at rehearsals, and his very beautiful voice in the final carol service. 

I've seldom met anyone who had such a talent for helping people find the music in themselves and bring it out.  A lot of very musical people are downright snotty about the well-meaning amateur singer with the strong but not-very-good singing voice (i.e. the likes of me).  Nigel was tirelessly encouraging, and never, ever, sniffy; he always found something good to say, even if it was only "You've got all the words right!"
I wish I'd told him how much he helped me feel better about my rather odd voice, simply by helping me try, and not blenching at the initial sound as others have done.  Now I'll never be able to do that.   I'm sad to remember the inner prompting in me that told me not to talk to him because he couldn't possibly be interested in anything I had to say.  What a shitty little inner prompting that was.  Doesn't everyone like to be thanked for their help? 

It's really very stupid, and in a strange way almost selfish, to refuse to thank someone for their kindness or their support, on the grounds that they wouldn't demean themself to pay attention.  It's hiding one's own sense of inadequacy behind an assumption of arrogance on the other person's part; and I don't believe Nigel was ever arrogant, so how stupid and how mean to have behaved as if he was, merely out of cowardice.

I say to myself, wake up, woman!  Life is ephemeral!  It is fragile and very short, and can be cut-off still shorter without any warning.  So befriend those you want to know better, love those that you love, and don't be ashamed.  Be good to yourself and to others, and be kind, in memory of the kindness of those now gone.  Live well and embrace life; embrace all things.  If an inner prompting tells you "Don't!  You mustn't!" about doing anything that is in essence good, then question that inner prompting closely, and be prepared to ignore it, no matter how scary that feels.  Don't shut yourself away inside with your private fear and pain and let them grow until they use up all the oxygen.  Seek happiness; and open the doors, and live in the world. 

I think of the chap I like; of the crush that has now settled to manageable proportions again.  I think of how interesting he is, and how ridiculous it is that having a crush has led me to hide from him and not to seek his friendship, although he's someone well worth knowing.  I want to go to him and say "I'm so sorry if this is embarrassing.  But I wish I could get to know you better.  You're interesting and I like the way your mind works; I appreciate knowing you so much.  I'd like very much to be friends."

But I'm not going to be able to do any such thing!  That's going way beyond thanking someone for their help.  It's just not done to say something that could be so embarrassing to the other party.

So much for that challenge of working on my shyness.  So much for opening the doors and living in the world.  I want to reach out; but I just haven't got the guts.

I'm tired.  Maybe it will seem better in the morning. 

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