Woman is head of an organisation. Her predecessor was a bully, and when she went there she found a pile of complaint letters, ignored, in his office. He made inappropriate appointments and she has had to manage or dismiss those individuals. After four years, approaching retirement, she has turned the place around. She lives alone, and needs a friend to hear her speak about it, to give her a sense of perspective about some of the issues. So she comes to visit, and Dave just says, Don’t worry about that, it’s alright. Have a glass of wine.
I had a moment of vertiginous terror thinking of it.
The trustees of the homeless charity want someone for maternity leave to take responsibility for the whole place. Liz looks at the list of responsibilities and quails: you would have to give your whole life to it. They cannot get a person who can do that for £16,000 for a notional 35 hour week. Though, I say, there are decisions where there are more than one right choice, and the important thing is to make a decision, rather than to make the perfect choice each time. And other workers will be grateful that someone is making the decisions.
The tasks Liz does as a volunteer are “mindless”. Not responsible. Yet they have to be done, and in the incidental interactions, in her very presence, she gives the spaces she frequents something far more valuable than merely carrying tins from one place to another.
She feels that if you can find your path and walk along it-
but finding the path can be so difficult-
I do not recall what she actually said, so do not want to be specific. It felt like putting off happiness, and so if I write an approximation it may be more unreal than her understanding. I would take her distance from truth, multiply it by my misunderstanding, and libel her. I cannot be certain that she is wrong.
Though, also, I want her to be my Wise Friend and not wrong.
I started by writing of someone in the world of work, making Decisions, which just have to be good enough for the moment; then I wrote of Liz’s “path”, and find in me a delicate desperation to find the exact way of expressing the truth, finding perfection-
my seeking perfection might paralyse me in ordinary tasks
it might drive me to actual perfection, so terrified am I of anything less
it might be the right quality in the right circumstances
it might just be a way of avoiding responsibility.
My confidence level is low. I thought this morning of how I am still hard on myself, and thought, I can notice when I am bullying myself, and evaluate how accurate the bullying thoughts are. This is a sort-of cognitive behavioural therapy thing. Or I can notice when I want perfect certainty now, and tell myself I cannot have it and do not need it. These are not new ideas and are worth practising. I might find myself in a panic and notice why.
At the coffee shop, we met a woman looking after two Staffordshire bull terriers, or “Staffies”, pulling on their harnesses. One is two, the other not full grown, but strong. She started talking, as we admired their beauty, and told me that collies do not need exercise, so much, as company: you cannot just leave them at home while working and call in at lunchtime. They are social animals, thinking dogs, needing stimulation.