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Where did the joy go?

July 13, 2017


Not so very long ago I felt filled with joy, in life, love, even work.  Now it all feels a bit, meh.  All a bit of a struggle.  All a bit boring.  So, where did it go?  Well, you know, joy comes and goes in life, troughs and peaks, ins and outs, positive and negative, blah and blah.  My last big peak of joy came around my 50th birthday, with the advent of a new love, and lasted a pretty long time all things considered.  My new love is now my old, married, comfortable love.  It has its share of issues but this is not the platform on which to share those.  This is about me.  Me and my work.  The new love thing distracted me from the same-old-same-old of my work life, and fooled me into thinking it was all just as it ought to be.

So, here I am.  I have love in my life, I have good friends, a nice house to live in, I eat extremely well and enjoy the fruits of the vine.  Who could want more?  Well, me.  I do.  I want more.

The joy started slipping away about three years ago I think, and my need to boost it resulted in taking on a new business, creating a new brand, and getting excited about making something out of nothing.  And I did it, and it was, briefly, quite exciting.  And now it isn’t.  It’s just a worry and fret, a VAT, payroll and how to fire someone nicely kind of irritation.  I wouldn’t mind but it pays very badly.  Also, it’s the same as my other business, which seemed to make sense at the time, but I clearly forgot one very important question – ‘do you want to keep doing the same thing Betty?’, to which the  answer is (altogether now) no.  First world problems I know, but I am done flagellating myself because I can’t fix the bloody third, second fourth or fifth worlds and frankly this country is looking less and less first world what with brexit, burning tower blocks and the death throes of the NHS.  I do what I can while attempting to remain healthy, happy and hopefully quite nice.

So, anyway.  I have now started looking for other things to bring back the buzz into my life.  I am beginning to recognise myself and my strengths, at the ripe old age of, you know, fifty something.  I like to create things.  I like collaboration.  Therein lies the crux – collaboration.  For the last twelve years my work has been just mine, all my control, ideas, plans, fuck ups, successes, gains and losses.  I have staff, suppliers, customers, all of with whom I interact on a fairly regular basis while my inner push-me-pull-you says this is good/I want go home and write*.  It is deeply unsatisfying.  And yet I am proud of what I have achieved.  My business is as ethical as I can make it, my staff are lovely people, loyal, kind and generous and creative and understand the concept of real hospitality.  The company makes very good food.  I use the ‘company’ intentionally because despite my lack of an equal partner in the business, the actual process of producing food to sell and then selling it is a very collaborative one, and a very positive one.  The VAT man gets most of the financial benefit of course, the tax man likewise (yes, they are men, I am quite sure, in brown shiny suits, with comb overs and damp, flaccid handshakes), the staff get some, not enough, and I get the warm fuzzy feeling of attempting and not quite managing to be satisfied by what we all produce and yet still living on the same amount of money I earned in 1988 as assistant manager at the River Cafe in London.  Bitter?  Yes, a little.

You don’t like it?  So fix it.  Yeah, yeah.

I have some small irons in some even smaller fires right now.  Creative fizzing is taking place in my brain.  I am making plans to free myself from the hum drum, while realising of course, because I’m a grown up, that some hum drum is a necessary part of life so what I really need to do is find balance, so don’t start with the lecture…  It’s a bit messy in there right now but you will be the first/last to know when it all happens and my joy returns.


* Griselda hung on with her flexed claws digging into the cloth of an innocent coat, rigid, scared and indignant,  She was an elderly cat, grey with tabby streaks, grumpy by nature ever since she lost her playmate, a small Tibetan spaniel named Tensing, when she was still just a kitten. Tensing was run over the road that fronted Griselda’s old house.  The same road that had seen the untimely deaths of her two kittens Dustpan and Brush.  Griselda didn’t yet know that her old was house was her old house.  All she knew was that she had been bundled into the car with the family.  A car journey meant one thing to Griselda. Being a cat she hadn’t worked out that either the vet had moved very far away or that, after all, this journey was for another reason all together.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Susanna Dammann permalink
    July 13, 2017 6:02 pm

    I can’t respond on blog because it wants me to log in and I can’t be bothered. and I haven’t time as I’m in Dublin at the end of the second day of a very considerable inspection, and not quite at the end of a much needed glass of wine. But – just quickly – good to know that fizzing has begun. And that Griselda is remembered … xxxS


  2. Mark permalink
    July 14, 2017 3:10 pm

    Dear Liz a part of this sounds kind of existential, is this all there is, what is the meaning? stuff, but it’s also about the fact as it sounds at least, that you don’t have enough money, or feel you don’t which may be different. And you want…. fizz. You can get that in a bottle but it is short lived – that kind of fizz- once you’ve let the cork go, shared it out and had a glass or two. Something new? Something else? In the end (as the existentialists say) it’s not out there but in here. I’ve started meditating – for the umpteenth time in my life. It provides that in here thing that’s missing if we don’t stop to notice it. And keep stopped regularly. But maybe you do need a change out there too to meet some new inner reality, and that could be great. Would a ruthless look at the £ figures yield a pay rise; would it help? At the moment I am earning almost nothing. I do mind sometimes especially if I allow myself to compare myself with friends and family who all seem better off than me. But comparisons are a hopeless way to go. It’s all relative. First world, second, third etc. Beyond not starving, having a roof and being clothed, knowing some kind of lov and connection with others, the rest is what I make of it. There’s the rub as the bard says. Thinking of you dear sis anyway and sending lots of lov and looingk forward to hugging hello and then another goodbye hug, and some, what? fizz or a bit of what we fancy at the bash for Ma and Nancy, and an up date on ideas coalescing. Xxxxmark

  3. Benet Haughton permalink
    July 18, 2017 3:19 am

    new old aches. thank you for this Lizzie. it is 4am and i am supposed to sleep but i fell to ordering a couple of cds and reading dag hammerskold ‘markings’. protestant poetic and brilliant stuff on his/our condition humaine. you said to me the other day a tad defensive maybe you dont do deep stuff but the questions you ask are substantial. the ‘is this it’ implication…….. did you see ‘as good as it gets’ jack nicholson playing the most brilliantly horrible narcissitic writer ever, like trump only intelligent. i saw a film a few days ago called Kedi which is turkish for cat, set in istanbul. the most lovely wee film about the best of the human condition in my catholic poetic opinion.

    i hope your writing bring you joy but on this theme of reality also struggle ennnui etc. you may like mary oliver book of essays on this subject called ‘upstream’.

    the birds are waking up. better try get some sleep but before i forget many many thanks for looking after Ginnie.

    xx and to russell b

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