Virtual Reality

Have you ever experienced the sudden almost imperceptible shift of story? How everything seemed to be going smoothly and life seemed straightforward – enjoyable even – and then seemingly out of nowhere the very same place becomes stifling, depressing, seething with hidden traps? Place is such a strange concept, we lend it so much meaning just by the hidden narratives that bloom within our minds.

This morning I returned from a unusually stress-free fortnightly grocery shop feeling organised, energised and excited for the week ahead… fast forward to two hours later and I’m exhausted, demotivated and resentful. Sure there were a number of kid-related frustrations that eventually tipped me over the edge (I’m looking at you, Ivy and the deliberate pumpkin soup splatters all over the floor), but if I’m honest, at the heart of it was the story I began to tell myself… ‘He had an easy morning playing on his phone, not doing anything around the house while I have been working and doing things for everyone else ever since I opened my eyes this morning.’ The sun-filled house suddenly felt gloomy, overflowing with mess and a testament to all the things that I have to maintain and manage all by myself. The story I told myself transformed the space I was living in and shifted reality before my eyes.

I’ve been lecturing the kids a lot about how boredom is a state of mind, making up stories about Bill and Bob at the playground. ‘Once upon a time’, I say, ‘there were two boys named Bill and Bob. Bill bounds up to the playground, he takes ones look and immediately begins to use his imagination. He pretends that the structure is a weathered pirate ship and takes control of the helm, seizing adventure and travelling to hidden parts of the globe. He searches for buried treasure and defends it from the evil invaders who try and take it from him. Suddenly he hears his mother calling ‘Bill, it’s time to go home now!’ and he feels as if no time at all has passed. Then there is Bob. He trudges over to the playground, takes one look at the slide and monkey bars and announces ‘This is boring, Mum can we go home yet?’. His mother tells him that they will be staying a little while and pleads with him to try and have some fun. He kicks at the dirt a little, goes down the slide once or twice but it feels like forever before she finally agrees that they can leave. ‘What was different?’ I ask. ‘The playground or the boys’ state of mind?’ 

As usual, it seems that my lectures end up being more for myself than them…

//Travelling

between stories

Gratitude and 

resentment shift the

tale 

from peace to 

bitterness

‘he said, he didn’t’

‘I felt, I want to’

scream.

Weaving 

between worlds

of magic and 

aching boredom

The walls shift

slightly

as I lend them

meaning

‘we are, we should be’

‘they did, they get to’

…a dream. 

Resolutely

holding narrative

between trembling

fingers

Turning truth over

to see how it 

feels

‘I know, I choose to’

‘we are, we create’

this reality.//

This post is inspired by the Five Minute Friday writing challenge. Each week I join with this talented group of writers, free writing for five minutes in accordance with a prompt. Today’s prompt is ‘place’. 

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Rising from the Ashes

I’m sitting in a cafe, tears streaming down my face. I’ve just finished ‘Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Someone Who’s Been There‘ (Cheryl Strayed). It is a hauntingly beautiful and redemptive collection of advice ‘columns’ written in response to heartbreaking letters to ‘Sugar’, the author’s pseudonym […]

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