That'll do for a headline. Hoak's book about the Council in the reign of King Edward VI is, whilst thoroughly informative and insightful, arguing against certain received ideas about the various stuff that happened convincingly and with supporting evidence, well, it's utterly hopeless for actual reading. Some of the historians on my list manage to be both academically sound and able as writers, some are able writers but contribute little or nothing to the history itself, merely retelling a story that has been told before. But Hoak is, for me at least, unsuccessful as a writer. It is not that the things he says fail to be compelling, but that the process of reading this damned book has been long and lumpy, in that it has failed to be engaging as a thing to be read.
Two factors seem to make a big difference in terms of my experience as a reader. The first is that Hoak's chapters are too long to be read in a single half-hour to hour sitting, for the most part. The threads of each chapter require dedicated attention, and the typeface of my copy is simply not conducive to reading for long periods. So it ended up being bitty, often bookmarked partway through a chapter and uninviting as a reading choice because of the need to pick up, go back and reread previous paragraphs and pages, rather than dive into a new section as more chunked-up works allow.
The second factor is that for this wonderfully exciting period of history, in which the modern world as we experience was shaped quite substantially - the groundwork for the subsequent Church of England, those words which are Cranmer's but I have at least in part claimed for Edward Strelley - Hoak has managed to flatten the excitement, reducing the politics from personalities and clashes to administration and bookkeeping. That is partly due to the absolute commitment to what is upheld by the evidence, rather than previous narrative accounts of the period, but seems also to be a sort of philosophical position of Hoak's. It is as though the narrative thread - the story, as opposed to the history - has been intentionally pruned out. I suppose that this is probably evidence of the serious academic nature of the book I've read, but it prevents me getting into it. The opposite experience is the one I have had reading A L Rowse's books, where the scholarship is undoubtedly sound, at least in its context, but the writing is absolutely compelling in and of itself.
One can only wonder what Professor Hoak (I think that is the correct address; I don't know if he still is a Professor, but I think it's one you keep) would make of These Matters. If you're reading, Sir, well, you know what to do. Read the books, review them on Amazon, Goodreads, whatever. I'll even send you a free copy of all three I get an email from you!
Everyone else: read the books. Enjoy them. Review them. Recommend them to others. Please!!!
Like the Exorcist. The French and Saunders version, naturally. Only orange.
Being physically ill is rubbish. Incapacitating, undignified, requiring of all manner of mopping up afterwards, both literal and metaphorical. There is one crucial element to being physically ill, as opposed to mentally ill, is that generally folk are able to process what the illness is. Puke everywhere and, except for that occasional person who makes it the fault of the sick person, you will get sympathy. Most of us have at one time or another suffered the same fate. So - from a safe distance, of course - people are comfortable with being comforting. If it's of the self-inflicted variety, that sympathy may be less forthcoming, but at least people can map their experience on to yours.
Why dwell on this frankly unpleasant subject? To draw a contrast, I suppose, with the typical experience of someone who is mentally ill. I get a load of those 'Time to Change' posts appearing on my feed on Facebook and I'm constantly struck by the number of them that focus on the fact that mental illness is dismissed, passed over or ignored. Convincing anyone that a mental health problem is real, not just a cry out for attention (or whatever), is challenging. That's particularly true, I think, of people with no clear reason or back story for their mental illness, and also of people whose behaviour does not transgress into abnormality in public. And a lot of this is simply because the lack of any personal experience with mental illness makes it very hard indeed to know what it is like to suffer from it. I think this is particularly challenging for teenagers, because (a lot of) the adults in their world will look at teenager-ness as the cause, find there to be no convincing (to them) reason for whatever behaviour they observe, and dismiss the possibility of a real mental health problem out of hand. It's heartening to see that this attitude is getting less prevalent, and those with mental illness are more likely to be heard. I hope there will come a time when it really is okay to be forthright about mental health. Britishness is a barrier, of course: we tend to behave in public at least as though there are no physical illnesses, feelings (of whatever sort), and certainly not mental illness. This, I think, is supposed to protect other people, which is a noble goal, to be sure. But perhaps it's time to abandon reserve in favour of honesty.
"When I first saw that a literary profession was to be my fate, I endeavoured by all efforts of stoicism to divest myself of that irritable degree of sensibility - or to speak plainly, of Vanity - which makes the poetical race miserable and ridiculous."
Encountering writers in the flesh can be everything from affirming to crushingly disappointing, probably just as much for the writer as for the fan. By one anecdotal account Umberto Eco, a rather fine writer in many ways, was unpleasantly lecherous and self-involved and thus dreadful company. His books are equally self-involved, but the fact that I can step away at any point or indulge his whim to tell me all there is to know about the Rosicrucians as I please means that I can accept that, and still enjoy the story. David Mitchell (no, not that one - the Cloud Atlas bloke), by contrast, was very engaging as a speaker, which is often not the case when they wheel out writers on Radio 4 or whatever.
Worse, perhaps, are we, the wannabes. I've made it a habit to write about myself and my writing on this website, and I still don't sell any books, so whatever the drive to continue writing these news posts, it certainly isn't sales. I can't help feeling that there's a worst-of-both-worlds factor, in that the Vanity, the misery and the ridiculousness are all there in abundance, but the literary profession is a fantasy rather than my fate. So, with all apologies to those English teachers of 25 years ago who taught me that quoting at length is to be avoided, and you should have at least twice as much to say about the quotation as there is quotation, let me quote at length from Raymond Tallis, without further exegesis.
"Art, I want to argue, addresses a fundamental hunger arising out of the human condition. Humans have three obvious hungers: for survival; for pleasure; and for positive acknowledgement by real or imaginary others (internalised as self-esteem at being loved, lusted after, or knowing that one is not, or is not thought to be, useless or a shit). But there is a fourth hunger and it is this that art addresses – and in the future will do so more explicitly and exclusively. What is this hunger? Where does it come from?
The fourth hunger – like the third – arises from our curious condition of being animals that have woken to a greater or lesser extent out of the state of an organism. Half-awakened, we are constantly engaged in making explicit sense of the world and of our fellow humans. This sense remains tantalisingly incomplete and stubbornly local. We go to our deaths never having been fully there – except perhaps in our final agonal moments when we are reclaimed by our bodies – or never having fully grasped our being there because we never quite close the gap between what we are and what we know, our ideas and our experiences, and because our knowledge is permeated by a sense of the ignorance that surrounds it.
...the fourth hunger: for a life more connected, for a more intense consciousness, for joyful experiences that are truly experienced in the way that pain, starvation, and terror are fully experienced."
The writing (and the music) are an indulgence, but I suppose they are a prop, a mechanism for feeling that more intense consciousness, to live out the joyful and sorrowful. Through my characters I can feel the remorse of killing, love frustrated, religion proscribed, the grief of loss, and by contrast the promise of love, or glory, or power, the elation of surviving real danger. I hope you can too.
If you're wondering, that last line is a thinly-veiled plea: buy the books. Follow the links above to experience exactly what it is I'm writing about here through the three novels (so far, with a fourth being written) of These Matters.
Given the choice between me and his mum, one Edward Richardson will always choose his mum. Regardless of, for example, how much effort and energy went into cleaning us both up this afternoon (it was like that bit in Trainspotting with the bed linen; don't watch it if you haven't already), as soon as she appears, I'm second best and that's the end of it. Apparently this is common, and isn't related to which parent bears the brunt of the children-duty, at least by anecdotal evidence collected from other folk I know. Of course, I may have failed to clean myself up, and that might have driven this particular instance.
What sort of thing do I mean by loyalty, then? One thing that I don't necessarily mean is that you stick by a person regardless of the bad stuff they do. I think you show more loyalty by telling someone that they're doing something wrong than by endorsing their actions. A truly loyal friend might challenge in private whilst defending in public. Those Labour MPs who have resigned just recently may defend themselves by saying they are loyal to their constituents or to their consciences - to what they believe is right - but they certainly haven't shown loyalty to the elected leader of the Labour Party. There seems to be a similar issue on the other side of the House, with a large number of MPs willing to vote against their leader's wishes on Brexit. It's impossible from the outside to know what pressures drive these examples, and it is easy to fall into the cynical view that politicians are in it for nothing other than themselves. The interesting thing about the current set of debates is precisely that the principles by which the various factions unite do not carve up in the same way as the principles that unite (or not) the parties themselves. Let's hope they manage to sort it out, else Adam Hills will keep growing that scraggly beard.
There's a sense in which writing about betrayal is easy. It tends to be 'big', easy to signpost and very definite. But I'm currently wrestling with how to manage a betrayal that is subtle, perhaps even unintentional. We'll see if I manage to make a good job of it. As with all things creative, there can't help but be a dollop of reality shot through the writing. Sometimes that makes it harder - one must try, for example, to avoid falling into the trap of making a fictional character into a simple caricature of a real one - but sometimes it provides the energy, the drive to make the fiction work. My greatest fear in some ways is betraying those who rely on me. I find wrestling with the pull of what someone wants against what I think they need is where this makes itself apparent, because often the thing a person wants from you is precisely what a truly loyal friend would not provide. Even harder is to try to line up what I want against what someone else wants, needs or deserves from me, because that urge to be kind to others often trumps the need to be kind to myself. Perhaps it's time to apply that 'only things that bring joy' idea! I'm not sure how that would fly in the middle of the sixteenth century, though. But that's the point behind the fiction: to try to show what it is like from the outside, rather than to try to detail the internal processes, to have all the thoughts that the characters might have but try to turn them into a story rather than a psychology essay... Someone described it (actually the first book in the series) as 'the beginnings of a style', a backhander perhaps, but capturing the point that there is a way I've done it. I try to show what is behind the mask through my characters, but not by simply telling you what they feel. That was my choice when I started, and I'm now so used to it that when I do try to write (fiction) in any other mode, I find it very difficult. Maybe that's why I write all these 'views' articles.
Some people seem to be able to peacefully coexist with their memories. Often, though, the external impression is the wrong one. I used to work with recovering drug users, and one of the most powerful threats they faced was the possibility of the memory of a situation taking over and beating them into lapsing back into use. It went as far in one case as a series of discussions with one client who had set out to be a nurse, but his previous job as a chef - stressful work environment, unusual hours - was too close in character for him to do it. His memory was a great burden to him, not because he was constantly actively reliving his own previous habit, but because it made him vulnerable to certain situations. He could not put himself into those situations for fear of that bit of him that couldn't cope, couldn't choose wisely... You'll be delighted to read that my brain went in two different directions at once then; one was Trainspotting (Choose Life!) and that bloke who is guarding the Holy Grail at the end of Last Crusade who tells Indiana Jones that the one fella choose poorly, and he chose wisely. Apparently that inability to marshal your train of thought is an autistic trope. Perhaps. I would imagine that there's a few bits of me that do autistic-type stuff. The current discourse on the subject is - hopefully - beginning to steer away from 'disability' and towards 'difference', which is something that's a bit easier to celebrate. Certainly my work colleague I mentioned last time seems to be able to think in these terms. She's like a sort of living guide to the subject. She brings, for me, a beautiful clarity to the world by which she is so often baffled. I think I help her, sometimes. At least I would like to think so. Two different views of a subject are always so much more informative.
I am aware that I do not always hide my feelings behind a mask. More accurately, I have had to learn to hide them a bit more, for several reasons, and I would go as far as to say that in my public life, I've not let the mask slip quite so often recently as I have in the past. Hiding feelings, as I discussed in my last post, is one of those tropes of life, one of those things that have been turned into diverting little nuggets on the internet to share on Facebook. I'm tempted to alter that to say 'British' life, because a different cultural norm might not celebrate the fact that people are so reserved. The Trolls in Frozen go on about people making bad choices when they're mad or scared or stressed, and it's not a bad thing to keep in your mind. Being cross, or disappointed, frustrated, bored even, can all lead to the wrong bit of the brain being in charge at the time a decision is required. I read something about the Chimp brain being the emotional, uncontrolled bit. It doesn't really matter what name we put to it, or for that matter what the actual brain mechanism is (I don't recall being convinced by the brain science). What matters is the observation that sometimes a bit of us is in charge that makes dreadful decisions, ones that we look back on and go 'what on earth was I doing?'.
My memory, for whatever reason, stitches me up massively in a(ny) church. Not sure exactly why, because as a teenager I would have said with great confidence that it (Christianity) was all superstitious nonsense. Now I'm more measured, I hope. Christianity has a wonderful message of redemption, the taking all the forgiving power out of the hands of the wrongdoer except in so far as she repents of her sins, and a built-in inclusivity that comes from Jesus' own statements. Some versions of Christianity struggle with how to interpret that inclusivity. I don't subscribe to the metaphysical elements of the religion. But, as I find myself saying increasingly often, Jesus' message - which can be summed up in the five words 'be excellent to each other' - is one that I really do believe in. Why, then, should my brain have such a reaction to arched windows and old stonework? I don't know. I can say that I am drawn to churches, that I want to go inside, interact with the building, its tombs and its corners, its character as a thing. But no voice, even still, small and calm. Just my own thoughts.
Some people are affected by significant dates. As should be obvious, I am among that number. Some branches of the Church do a really good job of having something significant about every date, give-or-take, so you can find something to celebrate or commiserate on any day you care to. But there will always be some dates that have extra power, whether that be derived from grief, joy or something else entirely. Some folk are affected by smells (is a Madeleine a biscuit or a cake, I wonder, for VAT purposes?). Some are desperate to recreate or relive some memory, and will go all-out to do so. For me, the goal is to be able to live comfortably with my memory, rather than fight it all the time. To be able to visit the parts of it that can make me happy without that runaway train of thought that always leads to the sad, the guilty, the frightening, the regret at a missed opportunity, a word unsaid or a kindness left undone, or, worse, the weight of an embarrassing blunder, or a moment of cruelty inflicted on someone undeserving of it.
So, anyway, buy the books. And if you're not going to, listen instead to this lot:
A truly sad date. For those who have read this website for some time, the significance will be clear, and it may be that some of those readers will have felt today as strongly, or perhaps even more so, than I have. In four years, I have, as I have written several times over the last few days, cried more than for the rest of my life put together. When they talk about 'life-altering' injuries, this is one of them, if not one that could be easily detected from the outside.
Here's a thought, part-question, part-observation. At times today I sat in a big room full of people, people who for various reasons might have had and perhaps even should have had their own reasons for marking today's significance, people for whom grief has been renewed recently, and I put every effort I could into not breaking down and crying. There's that thing where you lean your head back, so the tears don't flow. Blinking over and again. staring, not speaking. That was me today. Should I have put that energy in? Should I have accepted what was going on inside me, and allowed whatever I was feeling out? It is hard enough letting yourself cry in private, but in public? I somehow felt responsible for holding it in. I'm not sure I should have felt that responsibility.
Two things that nearly finished me off were when a colleague brought me a cup of strong coffee from her own (classy) reserves in a cup-with-a-lid, a gesture that showed that there was kind thought there, a metaphorical hug from a friend. Later, that same colleague was upset by the subject matter of our work, touching as it did her own neurodiversity, and seeing her leave the room was a huge wrench. Should I have followed? I don't know. I didn't, but she did return after a little while, and I gave her a real hug. Not as good as the classy coffee, though.
That this person should describe me as 'human' may not be obviously significant, but it felt like kindness, on a day when tenderness and kindness should be remembered and celebrated. Another colleague, one whose unexpected death towards the end of last year was and is a cause of untold grief for so many people, used the same word to describe me once as well. She had put a question to me that I could not - would not - answer, and recognised that my sadness was somehow similar to her own, even if the causes did not map on to each other.
In my writing, I try to capture these most intense moments of humanity. I may not be very good at it, and it's certainly the case that not very many people have read the books to find out, but that's why I do it. It makes life richer, somehow, to live it once through my own experiences and again through those of my characters. In the end, I suppose I'm making art of the purist kind, because I'll be doing it whether or not anyone cares in the slightest, and whether or not anyone buys it.
But just to be clear, buy the books. Or the ebooks. Because then I might be able to do the writing and not the other stuff...
It might seem like a small thing. A cricketer challenges the use of the word 'gay' as an insult. Why is everyone congratulating him on what ought to be the sort of thing everyone does? As Ebony Rainford-Brent comments, it requires a certain presence of mind, integrity and leadership to make that challenge. It takes concentration to be able to step outside the sporting contest back into reality, to be human for a moment, to say to someone who has transgressed that they have transgressed. Joe Root's rather beautiful and simple challenge shows that it both doesn't take much - two or three sentences, a firm tone - but it also takes a huge amount - bravery of that small, calm sort that is so often undervalued - to do the right thing. Joe Root (sometimes) batters a five-and-a-half ounce ball of rock-hard leather all over the place with a stick for a living. That bravery is one thing, physical, bodily. Root was in a dreadful run of form with the bat, and could have ignored the comment to concentrate on his own innings, but he did not. Instead, he intervened. He was not angry, if anything, he managed to show his disappointment rather well. That he went on to build a big score is great for him, but beside the point.
So, Joe, well done. I'm sure you're reading this thinking that it's very important to you that an amateurish writer should offer this praise, but there you go. In a time when a razor advert challenging aggressively masculine behaviour can get 1.4 million dislikes on YouTube, it does bear repeating: prejudice needs to be challenged.
One slightly disappointing feature of some of the commentary is how frequently the notion appears that it is the making of homophobic comments that is wrong. It is as though the homophobia that underlies it is not the wrong in itself, but the expressing of the view. At least Joe Root got it right when he said 'there's nothing wrong with being gay'. He did not say 'you can't say that', and the distinction is absolutely vital.
Just to be clear: yes, I cried. Again. It doesn't take much, these days.
Don't read this post if you're 'saving up' book IV. It might give away some key plot ideas.
I've finally seen how to resolve a bit of the story surrounding Edward Strelley and Elizabeth. The regular reader might be conscious of the fact that I never had or have a specific plan for any of the plot points with These Matters, rather I try to let nature take its course as I write the various scenes. So I've figured out roughly what scenes I need, now, to bring the events of 1549 to a close as regards these two. Still some way off from doing the same for Longshawe, de Winter and Pike, but getting there gradually. With a view to testing the water, then, here's a bit from later on in the book where Strelley and Elizabeth finally meet again after their long separation. I'm not sure I've got it right, yet, but it might be some insight into the process of developing these scenes. I'm not good at romance - in a number of senses - but I've tried to capture the strength of these feelings in how they speak to each other.
“Elizabeth!” Strelley says. His eyes fill with tears.
She says nothing, but goes to him, and throws her arms around him. The embrace lasts for minutes, hours, days, forever.
She releases him, and they sit down opposite each other. Her hand stretches out. He takes it in his, and holds it, stroking his thumb across the back of it. Then he looks into her face. She too is weeping.
“I’m sorry,” he says. “I’m so, so sorry.”
“Do not be.” She puts her other hand on his shoulder. “You are here.”
“I should not be.”
“That is not how I feel. Not now. Not any more.”
“The risk…” Strelley begins, but he stops. Then, he says, “I thought of you. Always.”
“And I you. I never told you, Edward Strelley. I love you.”
At this, Strelley’s head drops. “I wish you did not. Then I could leave you. Forever. Bear the weight myself.”
“It is not yours alone. I too wanted this… whatever it is that I feel… I wanted to be free of it. But I am not, and I shall not be. So we must each learn to live with it.” She lifts his chin, drawing her hand from between his, then holds his face. She looks at him, her eyes darting back and forth, reading his thoughts in the gloom. Then, briefly, tenderly, through her tears, with shaking hands, she kisses him. “I love you, Edward. And that is all.”
Going running on two separate weekend days for the first time in months has left me physically wrecked. Those of you that know me will probably find the suggestion of me going running fairly amusing, but it is in fact true, I sometimes voluntarily run around the place. It's a surprisingly good activity for the mind, in that generally whilst trying to avoid falling over, collapsing, overheating and so on it's impossible for your mind to form any coherent thoughts. I will probably be walking like John Wayne tomorrow, though, as I subjected my body to the routine I would have tried six months ago before I more-or-less gave up on running. And it was not easy, although I do know it will get easier. The attraction of a quiet mind is obvious to some people, generally those with active, restless thoughts that play out unbidden regardless of context (and often in utterly unhelpful ways!). Some people naturally have less turbulent inner workings, apparently, and it's hard to map one way of experiencing life on to another. Some people's children, for example, sleep, cooperate generally, eat the food they are given (rather than demanding the stuff in the cupboard by pointing and shouting).
Anyway, all of this is a preamble. The running, since three years ago, has been a way of managing the contents of my mind, largely by blasting them so hard with effort that they melt away altogether. It's a form of self-kindness, perversely I suppose in light of the physical challenge of actually hauling my carcase out of the house and dragging it a few miles round the houses. It requires time, too, which has been in short supply for a variety of reasons recently. I can thoroughly recommend running as a way of switching off those bits of your mind that you don't like, although it is on a similar line to the dad-joke which tells you to drop a sledgehammer on your foot to take away the pain of a minor scratch.
Being kind to yourself is one thing, but being kind to others is another entirely. Some people are so focused on the one that they forget the other, and I'm talking about both ways round. I have had to learn to be kind to myself over years, because my natural inclination is not to be. But I have always had a sense, an instinct of how to be kind to others. It deserts me, sometimes, from stress, pressure, tiredness, disappointment, but it will always come back. And sometimes, often immediately after a moment of unkindness, it is that ability to forgive - internally, for my own actions - that I have really struggled with. I'm not especially good at bearing grudges, because I'm far too lazy for that, but it turns out that my own inner workings are, basically, a set of grudges against myself. I think that recognition is helpful, because it highlights where some pressure might be relieved. But it's so firmly in-built it's probably going to live with me for the rest of my life. Forgiveness is in short supply in my dealings with myself. I know that is probably something that is fairly common, but making it explicit probably isn't.
So, in common with a really good teacher, I suggest forgiving whatever trespasses or sins are committed against you. But I would take that thought and extend it: you can forgive yourself, whatever the transgression. It does not require a weighing-up of the rights and wrongs, it does not need to take into account the intention of an act with a negative outcome, it does not need to examine anything further. An act might not even have to be wrong to receive censure, as someone who was once punished for, in his own words, 'ducking a snowball', can doubtless confirm. Set out to be kind and allow yourself to be satisfied that that is enough. Repentance looms large for Christians, but that is about some external power's forgiveness. The trick is learning to live with yourself, because you've got to do that for the rest of your life. I'm learning, and I've still got some way to go, in all possible sense.
It's not just about living forever, Jackie. The trick is living with yourself forever.
Some disappointments are minor, work-related and, viewed from a suitable distance, probably not that significant. Failing in some way is hard to take, especially when that failure has a public element to it. That is to say, the hardest part of falling short can be telling other people you've fallen short. There's also controlling that urge to chuck teddies that inevitably comes out when you feel disappointed. Perhaps I should (chuck teddies), because I don't indulge angry feelings very often, and although they can be very difficult to see clearly through, they might focus me on what to do next. Rather than just being sad and mooching, a bit of being pissed off might help me with the energy I need to not just keep on doing the same thing. I would like to apologise to anyone who catches the wrong end of me being fecked off over the next week or fortnight, because it's almost certainly the case that you didn't deserve it. It will be difficult for me to maintain that enthusiasm that I might sometimes be able to channel, but those who suffer as a result won't be those who my dummy-spitting antics are designed to affect. I don't generally set out to upset anybody, and I'm not very good at doing it deliberately, so I can imagine that there might be collateral damage.
A kind, nurturing person - which is what I, too, try to be - might have one eye on the date, and recognise its significance to me. There are those who today ought to have had that thought and didn't, and there are those who will have had that thought and couldn't or wouldn't express it for whatever reason, which might well have been as much of a wrench for them as the day has been for me. I wonder if I will be able to ask... Three years ago today I finally broke down after a period of anxiety and depression, and was unable to return to work for a month or so. There is a certain cruelty, therefore, in the lining up of that anniversary with today's disappointment, particularly as the context for that was yet another devastating, life-shaking and heartbreaking event, the unexpected death of a colleague. Baggage is some way short of expressing the idea, but it is in the right direction. My experience of the past four years (yes, you read that right, because February of the year before brought its own overwhelming grief) has been that I cry a lot more than I used to, and sometimes that's okay, and sometimes I wish I didn't have to. Crying is such a useless process, because, frankly, there is no dignity in snot. But in letting myself be sad, I've learned that the utter despair that is depression, the feeling that there is no light that can brighten the darkness, that is different. Being sad is an appropriate response to grief, to frustration, to being close enough to touch but not able to move that last inch and connect. Depression robs you of the hope that it could be different. It is a long time since I could say that I was depressed, although my anxiety has flowed as well as ebbed over four years, sometimes driven by those griefs and cares I have mentioned (and others I have not!), sometimes seemingly entirely out-of-whack with actual events. I will say this, though, to those suffering with anxiety, depression, or sadness commensurate with the situation: there will be moments, in the future, that will be happy moments. They might be sitting in front of the TV watching some nonsense with the right person. They might be getting a yes (particularly when you expected a no), or doing something you didn't think you could. But they will happen. And I am saying that as much to myself as to anyone reading this.
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought