Changing Gears

Over the past few weeks, since changing medication from anti-depressants to a mood stabiliser, I have, in cycling parlance, changed gears.

Over the past couple of weeks I have noticed a real change of pace, both in the speed of my thoughts, and also a marked slowing down of the pace of my life.  In short, I do much less than I did, but, I am beginning to think that what I do, I do better.

Things take longer to do…because they take longer to do. My former racing-thoughts self worked faster, but did they mean I functioned better?  I am starting to recognise that I am getting less done, but it may be getting done better.

Like wise, when I’m on my bike, especially in the freezing weather.

I’m opting for lower gears and getting places a bit slower, but a little bit less frozen.  There are still times when a less than graceful gear change has resulted in the chain coming off, a tirade of frustrations from the handlebars, and a few monments later, the chain back where it belongs, and I’m on my way.

I’m not so much living life in the slow lane, but noticing lots of things I hadn’t noticed before.  I don’t mean that,  in the words of the poet William Henry Davies, I have had no time to stand and stare.

It’s less poetic than that.

I am not waxing lyrical about the un-noticed joys, or simple pleasures, that are all too easily over-looked in the hurly-burly of every day life.  No, what I mean is, that stuff takes longer to do than I had realised.  At the moment, I think that this means that I can do what I do better, and in time what I feel is slow-motion, will seem like a  normal pace.

My thoughts are no longer writ large in flashing lights, hurtling along past everyone, and past me, too, as it turns out.

And what’s more, I haven’t thought about killing myself for, well, weeks now.

Although the poem I have chosen is actually about coming to after the end of a relationship, it has a lot of resonance for me.

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Derek Walcott (1930-)

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