Posts Tagged ‘Feeling Helpless’

Can someone develop inertia?  It sounds a bit like reversing backwards.  Well whatever it is, I’ve got it.

When my mum died, my happy pills kept the black dog at bay for the first few months.  Its departure was replaced by an emptiness, a desire to do nothing.  So that’s what I did.

Now, twenty months later, mum’s boxes are still littered around the house, their only movement being from the spare room to my study when Clare came to stay for a few weeks.

Each time I open a box, I am assailed by memories and doubts.  How can I disrespect my mother by throwing away her memories, her cherished possessions?  So instead, I spend hours on Facebook, playing stupid games, surrounded by boxes.

The only thing that motivates me is a deadline.  So, in the last year, I’ve performed, directed, designed and built more sets than ever before.  And while I’m doing it, I love it.  But when I get home, I go straight to the computer and kill vampires, harvest crops and hunt for treasure.

Then, last week, I was chatting to a friend whose mum died late last year, and she remarked how, since then, she’s had no desire to work in her garden.  She despairs at how bedraggled it looks, remembering how much she used to cherish it.  She wasn’t very impressed when I started smiling, and was even less impressed when I laughed at how many boxes she’s got in her spare room…all filled with her mum’s belongings.  What’s more, she said, all I want to do is read.  And even then it’s only because I’ve got to get the book back to the library before due date.

Sound familiar?

So we’ve come up with a plan.

Each week, for two hours, we’re going to take turns visiting each other.  The visitee will decide on the highest priority – emptying boxes, weeding or clearing out cupboards.  The visitor will comply and be rewarded with tea and chocolate biscuits.  Or red wine, if we’ve done really well.

I went to her house yesterday.  It was great.  There’s a long way to go, but it’s a start.

Who knows, I might even be able to empty a box or two myself before she comes around next week…


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People look at me earnestly. Their eyes telling me that they care. They know she’s not well, but don’t know what to do or how to help.

Her mind is as sharp as ever. Her blue eyes still flash when she talks about something that excites her. She is willing to share her knowledge with anyone who is prepared to learn.

She has emphysema. She gurgles when she breathes. She cannot bend down to stroke her cat without getting breathless. She weighs 30 kilograms. She won’t eat. She won’t discuss it.

I smile and reply, “She’s fine. Thanks for asking.”

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Neil Simon once said that the world is made up of Watchers and
Do-ers. The Watchers sit around watching the Do-ers do. And sometimes it is harder to watch what is being done than to do what is being watched.

Directing a play is much like that.

I sit in the empty auditorium, watching actors ‘do’ for two and a half hours. I just watch, ‘doing’ nothing. But watching is the only requirement of that doing action. Nothing else is right. It still feels wrong.

I suppose it’s like watching someone die. There is nothing you can do. Just watch.

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