An extraordinary thing has come to pass.
(Bear with me, this is a slightly longer tale than usual but may give some people hope.)
The last few of months have been troubled ones as we trawled along the seabed of my past, hauling everything to the surface for a good old look. There are a lot of unsightly and, frankly, best forgotten things lurking back there. The last tattered remnants of the imagined atmospheric version of my childhood have been exposed. Coupled with a forced move to a new job in a toxic environment, it has been an uncomfortable few weeks. Unable to cope with the world of humans I resigned my Community Council Post and withdrew from society. My girls, bless their little scaly feet, have kept me at least engaged with the great outdoors. A trip out into the garden to tend to them often leads to a desire to go for a walk.
At my last appointment, I asked the psychologist for help in coping with the world of work, and office politics in particular. This has become an increasing problem for me and I wanted to prevent myself from leaving another job. We talked about dealing with people who will at best embellish the truth and at worst outright lie in order to protect their own job rather than carry out the work we’re supposed to be doing. As I have always worked in a kind of social work setting this has been difficult, actually impossible, for me to go along with. And it seems to be increasingly common. The psychologist told me my problem was that I couldn’t marry up my ideals with the reality of the restricted framework in which these jobs are carried out.
I went home feeling completely wretched that day, and barely slept that night.
But here’s the exciting bit.
The following morning I had an epiphany. I saw myself clearly for the first time since I was raped. Anyone who has lost their grasp on their own identity will know how extraordinary this is.
I suddenly saw myself as the person who won’t go along with lying to further my own needs at a cost to the public purse. I’m the annoying person who challenges poor practice. I’m the annoying person who wants to keep honest records and change things that are not giving vulnerable people the best support we can offer, even if that means we have to own up to our own mistakes.
I’m that person. The one that people roll their eyes at. The idealist. That’s me. That’s why I don’t fit in. The problem is not with me it’s with the workplaces I’ve recently been choosing to work in.
I saw myself clearly for the first time in over a decade because I saw clearly who I am not. I do not want to be the person who lies to protect my job or chase promotion and, this is the important bit, I cannot hide my distaste when I see others doing it.
What has been lacking is the courage of my own convictions. I have actually fitted in more than I realised and it’s the fitting in that has bothered me. It’s my own silence in the face of these self-serving office tyrants that has caused me so much anguish. It’s my voice I need to find.
‘To thy own self be true.’
This epiphany has led to an amazing lift in my mood and an extraordinary creative outpouring that has shifted my focus from spending leisure time brooding to absorbing myself in art, my own and other people’s. My world view is transformed. Interacting with humans has become much easier now that I know who I am.
I’m not saying I’m some amazing public campaigner or a great artist. I’m just an ordinary extraordinary person, as we all are. The difference is that I think I now know which kind of ordinary extraordinary person I am. And I like that person. She’s not as bad as I thought she was.
To grasp the slippery concept of your current self is to marry up mind and body. I know myself, and now I may know others.
Yesterday morning I had to crack the ice on the water feeder. This led me to think about the adaptability of chickens. They originally come from Asian countries where they were jungle fowl in places that are usually a good deal warmer than here. There’s is another story of involuntary migration. No one asked if they wanted to become egg slaves to the people of the frozen north. But here they are, doing their best in all kinds of circumstances which, for the most part, are out of their control. What a debt we owe them.
Despite they’re apparent lack of consent, in purely evolutionary terms they are a biological success story. There are more chickens than people in the world. They are so adaptable that they can be found pretty much everywhere. Of course, this could also be considered their downfall. That and that they taste so good (sorry vegans). Imagine western societies with no chicken on the menu. What would replace it? Where would we be without eggs?
Do we thank them for their services? No. In time-honoured fashion we take the useful and voiceless and exploit them all the more. Please never buy cheap chicken.
Not only do chickens adapt to the cold they also adapt to the light. It must be disruptive for them to go from daylight for pretty much 20 hours a day to it suddenly getting dark about half past four. I feel for them. My new job (about which I left a bit of a drunken rant last time I was here) has changed my work days to Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A small change you might think, but one which has totally thrown me. This must be what the girls feel like when the sun takes so long to get up and disappears so quickly. They can barely get started on the bug hunt before it’s time to head in for cover again. Are they getting enough protein now? I don’t know. Indeed the onset of autumn, with a predicted harsh winter on its tail, has given me quite a few new worries.
But for all this the girls are still giving more than just delicious eggs. When I wake in the morning getting out of bed is easier knowing they’re waiting to be let out to start their day. They’re always eager and start their guttural cooing as I gingerly head up the slippery steps to the garden and on up the slope to their coop. And as I stand in the garden, the chickens busily gobbling up their breakfast next to me, I can see the green hills all around and feel the bite of the morning air. For those few glorious moments I feel good to be alive.