Wednesday, November 07, 2007

laboured analogy
Imagine you’ve got a long walk ahead of you to an unknown destination. You have a detailed map and lots of people are on hand to tell you about the route, but this is the first time you’ve tried it yourself. You know how long it’s going to take - a long while, but not forever - and you think that the time will probably fly by once you get underway.
The first third of the walk is all uphill, it is extremely tiring. There are also a couple of tricky, potentially dangerous, junctions to cross - you concentrate very hard on every step you take, scared to put a foot wrong.
The second third of the walk is downhill, but there are lots of side streets and, because this is the first time you’ve made this journey, you concentrate on ticking them off on the map and keep rechecking the instructions you’ve been given. Your focus never wavers.
By the time you reach the last third of your walk your enthusiasm for the whole project is flagging. It’s not that it’s particularly hard - although, you’ll be pleased to reach your destination where, hopefully, you can put your feet up and have a nice glass of wine - it’s that you’ve been walking for miles, paying attention to every single detail of the route.
What you thought would be a pleasant jaunt has turned into a rather long slog and - although everyone tells you that you are nearly there - the final destination seems further away now than when you started. If only you’d thought to bring some music or could walk and read at the same time. If only there was something that could take your mind off the physical act of walking (slowly, now) or if you knew the route well you might be able to distract yourself and time would speed up, after all you know you must be very nearly there by now, certainly that’s what the map says. It should be just around the next couple of corners.
Nine months. Nine long months. And, actually, we’re only at the seven-month mark. I’m sure that previous seven-month stretches of time have passed by much faster than this. The problem is that every single day of it I’ve been in countdown mode. There’s barely been an hour that I’ve switched off and forgotten about Sprout. Maintaining that heightened level of concentration is exhausting and it means that time drags - the whole world has been playing in slow-mo around me for the last seven months.
Of course, once you arrive at your destination, the whole journey to get there telescopes back to seem as though it only took a little while - it was a nice walk too. The next time you do this you’ll be able to do most of it on autopilot and you’ll wonder why you made such a fuss the first time - after all you only have to put on foot in front of the other in a straight line until you get there and the signposts can’t be missed.

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