Going ‘Off Plan’

20 Apr

It’s been a stressy week. I have not managed to take time back.

I have worked overtime, over time that I won’t be paid for and probably won’t manage to claim back.

I figure that I need to start giving clients a set number of hours per week and sticking to it! I have been pulled into various meetings about clients and have still felt it was important to go and see them, write their notes and analyse data about them. This just isn’t feasible! (unless I can get my caseload down to two!).

Anyway, yesterday (Friday) I was driving around Thanet between a session with a client and a case conference about a different client. I realised I had a hour to spare; not enough time to get back to the office; too much time to go straight there.

I realised I was driving through broadstairs and it occured to me that I could take a lunch-break yes a friging lunch break. I had heard that Broadstairs is nice, and I suddenly felt like I might have the opportunity to do something totally unpredictable to even myself.

I felt as I were being somewhat reckless as I parked my car on the high street and walked down the hill towards where I imagined the sea might be. To think that no one in the world knew where I was or what I was doing, nor could they guess felt alien and exciting to me.

I felt as if I might have managed to go off plan; to have demonstrated my own free will and independence of thought.

I walked down the road and identified that Broadstairs was indeed, middle class, with an old-fashioned bakery, haberdashery and butcher on the high street. A funeral parlour with the tag line “today is a good day to plan your funeral” gave me an idea of the demographics of the town, yet strangely, the only young people I could see were teenagers. Not British teenagers, but French, in fact, the only language I could hear being spoken was French. I wondered if I might have accidentally entered into a rift in the space-time continuum, or maybe just, absent mindedly driven through the eurotunnel into France.

As it began to rain I realised I was indeed in Britain, and like a true Brit, carried in regardless down to the beach.

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I walked along the pavement by the beach huts and identified a picnic bench to venture across the sand for. Wearing a full length woollen coat and my red-leather work shoes I suspected that should anyone have noticed me they might have thought me rather odd. Indeed, in my psychologist outfit, I felt more removed that usual from nature and less able to be connected with the outdoors. I fantasised about taking my shoes off and running across the beach to paddle in the icy sea. I noticed this urge and reflected that, had I have not been in psychologist mode I probably would have gone with it. I comforted my self with my flask of coffee and a cigarette.

I was aware of this chap sitting in the bench next to mine:

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I’m not a fan of seagulls but he stayed put, looking at me and talking to the other seagulls. He reminded me of a dog, or rather dogs when they whine at each other. On making this association, I paid him some more attention. He seemed wise and grounded. I wondered if he had an understanding of the universe and realised that, on a level, he did. Not a cognitive level, but on a practical, behavioural level, and perhaps, an emotional level. Looking at him made me feel as if he had a sense of mastery over his world, a complete understanding of all he perceives, or at least the feeling of understanding of all he perceives.

I reasoned that I had a fairly good, practical understanding of the universe and my place in it, but there is no way I will ever have an understanding of it all on a cognitive level. Even if i had infinite mental capacity to understand all the knowledge in the world, the facts are still unknown. I wondered if I could ever understand it all on an emotional level and fairly quickly dismissed that as too time and energy consuming.

I wondered, however, whether I am missing a level or two?

I started to get cold and wet and retreated to my car, dissatisfied with my attempt to be reckless but satisfied that I had achieved some thinking space of my own.

I felt a sense of achievement as I arrived at my next meeting with wet hair and sand in my shoes.

Also, at the meeting I apologetically informed my colleagues that I would not be present the week after next for two consecutive weeks. They surprised me by seeming genuinely pleased for
me to be getting a holiday. I walked away realising that I had fallen into a trap of thinking my presence is more important than it actually is.

I drove home after the meeting feeling a little bit free…

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9 Responses to “Going ‘Off Plan’”

  1. getempowered3000 April 21, 2013 at 6:11 pm #

    Great post! I specifically want to quote this line because it is the most important to me…”I walked away realising that I had fallen into a trap of thinking my presence is more important than it actually is.” This often how many of us feel… but when we just take on the mind of freedom if only for a bit… it is still freedom! Thank you for sharing…

    • longnoseddog April 21, 2013 at 6:52 pm #

      Thank you for reading and your thoughtful comment! It hadn’t occurred to me that trying to be reliable and hard-working could lead me to lose sight of my own relative insignificance. I hope this is learning that I will ‘hold on to’. I’m hoping for more moments of freedom! And hope you find some too! Best wishes, alice 🙂

  2. baconbiscuit212 April 22, 2013 at 2:16 am #

    Good for you! I’m glad to hear that you took some time off. It is really necessary to be good about drawing boundaries and taking time for yourself, something that I should really be better about myself!

    • longnoseddog April 22, 2013 at 6:56 am #

      Thank you for reading! It’s such a hard boundary to keep eh? Despite knowing the logic, and wanting to take the time I think putting it into practice is really quite tricky! I hope you are making time for yourself?! 🙂 Alice

      • baconbiscuit212 April 23, 2013 at 6:29 pm #

        Trying to! Four more weeks till the end of the semester. Can’t be here soon enough!

      • longnoseddog April 24, 2013 at 5:17 am #

        Ah, it’s even harder when you are studying! I feel you pain. There are no natural boundaries (like getting home from work. What are you studying? X

      • baconbiscuit212 April 24, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

        I actually finished in September. So now I am a completely useless doctor of French literature!

      • baconbiscuit212 April 24, 2013 at 12:46 pm #

        I’m teaching, so it’s kind of the same old same old!

      • longnoseddog April 26, 2013 at 5:15 am #

        Ah, I see! Another example of a job where there is just too much to do to get it done in the working day! Dr of French literature sounds very cool though! 😉

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