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17th September

An innocent game

I tell myself that if I walk briskly, I can get from our house to the market in ten minutes.

Along the way I continuously glance at my watch and when I’m not on course I speed up my stride.

I’ve always looked at this as an innocent game I play with myself. But is it really?


Is spending thirty minutes on the cross-trainer even when I feel drained equally innocent?


What about the stress I put myself, and Felipe through because I must arrive exactly on time for an appointment, not a minute later?


What about the effort it takes me to break my intermittent fasting occasionally and go out for a pizza at night?


And what about the nervousness I feel when after finishing one piece I cannot immediately start another? Are those moments of anxiety part of that innocent game too?


A friend suggested to go and sit on a terrace when I’m not able to write. But how could I walk on the street, let alone sit on a terrace during writing hours? That would be playing hooky and

I wouldn’t think of skipping class to go play outside, not sixty years ago and not now.


The very stress of not coming up with an idea quickly keeps me from getting to the core of my thoughts. It’s like trying to write with a clenched fist rather than an open hand.


I’m not as neurotic as the character Jack Nicholson played in the film As Good As it Gets. He wanted to avoid at all cost that his feet touched the cracks between the street tiles, so he’d go along his way tiptoeing in a jerky dance.

In fact, I only have this compulsive behavior when it concerns trivial daily activities. In my work and with important, even life-changing events I move along in a rather relaxed way.


At least that’s what I tell myself. But I’m starting to wonder if this obsessive behavior isn't a diversion that my mind has concocted to keep certain unpleasant emotions at bay. By focusing so intensely on the time it takes me to walk to the market there’s no chance unwelcome feelings can come up.


The truth of the matter is that I would like to dance through life without the nonsensical demands I make of myself.

So, dancing I will next time I go to the market. Not with the awkward movements of the Jack Nicholson character but in a slow and smooth motion. I will waltz through the streets of Barcelona, all by myself and I will not look at my watch, not even once.

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