I don’t like being told what to do. Who does?
I am a quiet revolutionary, a passive resister, a peaceful rebel. At school, my Spanish teacher once called me a dark horse (with a degree of admiration I like to believe) on becoming aware of my subversive tendencies (she and the art teacher had just returned from burning the Stars and Stripes at the US embassy).
It’s possible the origins of my disposition lie in unjust treatment by figures of authority, witnessing abuse of power and hypocrisy. I boycott companies with unethical practices or investments (eg. Amazon and Nestlé), but it’s not just a political thing; I resist some concepts and words too. Thus, when I see the word management my instant response is to recoil like a vampire opening the door to a garlic-filled sun lounge. For me, it has several meanings – all of them unsavoury. The dictionary definition includes: direct, contrive, control, wield and manipulate.
In the world of employment, the management is in control of your time and activities. They can make your life unbearable or…not quite so unbearable, on a whim. Perhaps this was why I was drawn to self-employment 35 years ago and have not had a “proper job” since.
We are told by the medical authorities to manage chronic pain and manage chronic fatigue, but these are just euphemisms for put up with when they realise their arsenal of drugs and butchery will have no effect.
Some establishments violate my psyche with signs demanding I comply with or refrain from particular behaviour “By Order of the Management”. My instinct is to do just the opposite, but unless I can do so without fear of detection (I am still a scared little boy on the inside) I will probably just slink out of the door wishing I’d been brave enough to “stick it to the man” by, I don’t know, leaving a poo under the table or something.
When I began my degree two years ago, and I was advised to put in place a time management plan, my immediate response was to reject the idea. With a life as full and complicated as mine, how could I force it to conform to some preordained structure? However, once I immersed myself in full-time study, it became challenging to fit everything else in: keeping my jewellery business ticking over, growing food, writing a novel, poetry and blogs, building a cabin, DIY, domestic activities and family.
Faced with insanity or headless-chicken-syndrome, I have relented to some extent. I deceived my mind with the phrase juggling activities. After all, juggling is fun isn’t it? (Says the master of one-ball juggling). In term time I abandon any attempt at writing my novel. During the week, daytimes are reserved for study; weekends are for everything else and evenings for rest and relaxation. It’s a sort of plan. During the summer holidays (which are blissfully long) I try to catch up. My heart urges me to spend most days writing, but I have tried to limit myself to three. In my approach to the other activities, I am mood- or symptom-led, or compelled by priorities. Here lies the danger. Social media beckons, and like a black hole it can bend time and space, stealing huge sections of the day as you are sucked through unlimited trouser-legs of reality. Additionally, irregular circumstances can collude to sabotage best laid plans: WWOOF volunteers, weather, visitors, garden pests, hen broodiness, plumbing or electrical faults, domestic emergencies, family crises, stacking firewood, cats in need of laps…
I aspire to get a handle on this and often resolve to sit down and devise a workable timetable—so many people tell me it’s important. It has been ordered by the management! Okay, I’ll do it tomorrow. Or next week…definitely. Maybe. They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions; I have plenty of those. But I can help asking: “Isn’t it more about the journey than the destination?”