So I recently took a trip to India, to attend the wedding of a friend from work. This was great fun and the trip was a hell of a learning experience in its own right (of which more anon).
There was, however, one element of the trip that proved a little... distracting. You see, I wasn't the only one who was willing to hop on a long-haul flight for the chance to see a proper Indian wedding. I had a fellow-traveller. A girl. Who I've had a mild crush on for a while.
I'm fairly sure she has no interest in me, and the trip probably did little to change her opinion given how fish-out-of-water we both were in Delhi. However, it's a demonstrable fact that close proximity to someone enhances one's emotional response to them*. In short, the crush has devolved into full-scale infatuation.
And then comes the office Christmas party. And she's wearing a gorgeous dress, looking incredible, and I'm feeling like the village idiot as I shamble around trying to dance without breaking anyone's toes. I can't even pluck up the courage to make a move. This sucks...
Now at this point you're probably thinking this is going to be another of those pitifully whiney posts I've been coming out with lately. But somewhere between the champagne and the Jack Daniels, I have a join-the-dots moment. I figure out what it is that's making me unhappy.
The girl is a part of it, sure, but I've had the same frustration when faced with my inability to move up the career ladder. It's the feeling that I've hit my limits, that I've found some kind of glass ceiling beyond which I can't progress. I stare out across the impenetrable ocean of my own inadequacies and weep, for there are no more worlds I can conquer.
This is just an organising principle for thoughts that have been percolating for a while, but describing problems helps me find solutions. It occured to me that, as long as I'm improving in one area of my life, I won't care so much about the rest.
And improvement takes less effort than I expected. I've spent the weekend tidying my flat. I've given a load of my old books to charity. I've sorted out dry-cleaning and food shopping and getting various parts of my life organised, and taking a bit of exercise.
Ah, the exercise. I'm very badly out of shape, and the first fifteen minutes of my half-hour jog on Saturday nearly did me in. But I reached the top of a hill, and I felt my muscles start to fall into line, and I got my breathing in check, and I looked at the world spread out before me, and I felt happy.
It's Sunday as I write this and I'm just about to head out for another run. I know it isn't solving all my problems: at some point there will be a reckoning with the girl, if only to give me closure. But I now know that, when the moment comes, I'll be a better person than I am today. And that's enough.
* Or at least that's how I imagine it would look to an outsider. Speaking from the inside of my own skull, I just think she's really smart, attractive, unconventional and generally fun to be around.