The Haptic Feedback of Life

You know that little drilling sound when you get a new smartphone and press the screen? Every press and tap you make responds with a little vibration. It’s called haptic feedback. Press, buzz … press, buzz … Until it drives you mad and you turn off the function (term used very loosely). Does anyone know what it’s for, before having to check it out online?

Life’s been a bit like that for me lately. Every action I take is mirrored by some type of feedback that’s well annoying! But unlike with the smartphone, you can’t switch this off.

Or can you?

In the last few weeks, I’ve had lots of pushback. A work load that has been mentally and emotionally demanding, to say the least. The relentless bouts of insomnia. People have also expected me to be a ray of sunshine when I definitely have not felt like one or even been capable of delivering a reasonable facsimile thereof, as before! Then being pickpocketed in the supermarket queue, and thus losing my trusty phone, and to top it off having a close friend being stabbed at work and him ending up in hospital. Geez Louise! Give it a rest already…

This all after not quite  feeling myself since J passed away over a month ago. Some days, I just feel like I’m ready to move into a remote cave (people may want to come and visit on a remote island, you see) for an undisclosed amount of time. Where life can’t push me back or down when I’m trying to go forward or upward.

But then, just when the fatigue seeps through my skin and bone, straight into my very core … and I feel as if I have nothing left in me to fight back with anymore, I flop down on my patio chair and I look. I see and I remember how far I’ve come already. I see my raised bed project slowly coming to life, and how every minute I spend in my garden makes me smile. How connected I feel there, in that small spot. The journey to find my tribe (you know what I mean), the unexpected walks with friends, the drives, impromptu braais, the laughter and simple things in life, stoep philosophy and jokes, and discovering kindness on my doorstep. Meeting people in the most unexpected places who share the same interests.

I’ve been distracted by many things the last few months, mostly thoughts and feelings I’ve had no idea what to do with. A plunging sadness at times, which I now recognise as the frustration of and at mortality. More than once, I’ve used the word ‘busy’ to cover up my lack of enthusiasm for many things. I mean, what’s the point of anything, right?

Lately I’ve been wondering, how busy are we really? Being busy seemingly implies importance: Things to do, places to see, people to meet. I told my mother recently, that as a single woman of 42 without kids, I sometimes find it difficult to feel relevant in modern society, despite the so-called social progress we’ve made. I’ve ticked none of the required boxes, but a part of me is grateful for that. Besides, it’s not like life happens the same to all 7 billion of us! Thank heavens for that, right?

An example. I unexpectedly had dinner at a school friend’s home last week. The result of a conversation we had, and a determined YouTube search, was discovering this short documentary, Forest Man. It’s about a man who has since the late 70s singlehandedly planted a forest larger than Central Park. It certainly started putting things into perspective.

Then, my weekend following this was mostly silent due to my phone being stolen, and … I must confess that I quite liked it! Maybe I need to rethink a few things. Such as what is ‘busy’ anyway? What is truly worth being busy with?

One thing’s for sure. I will do my best to not allow the relentless haptic feedback of life to make me despondent anymore. I will accept what I can’t change (who knows, I may even learn from it), and change the things I must and can. There’s a time and place to be realistic, and a time and place to scare the living crap out of yourself by having dreams and hopes, even if others’ don’t see. Can reality and dreams work together? I once heard that it is with our dreams that we make the world. Perhaps then dreams are the only reality. Maybe this seems obvious, but I’ve been known to miss lessons the first time around.

In short, you can be sure that you’re going to get feedback. You may as well ensure that you’re planted deep and strong to weather the storm.

If you’re looking for me, I’m off finding myself some quality soil.

* Dedicated to Cindy.

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