Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Pessimism and the search for happiness

Gosh, great title, eh? That'll have 'em lining the bookshops ... Anyway, after last night’s book club joy, I came down to earth very rapidly at getting yet another rejection for Maloney’s Law. Deep sigh. Admittedly, it was from a publisher I assumed had already rejected it, but there you go. So, it’s now only out with one US publisher – if they say no, I’m throwing in the towel on the commercial front, I think, as it’s coming up to two years in the market for that one now. Shame really, as it’s been shortlisted for the most awards of all my novels. But I am heartened by the hope that perhaps it might find its way into Goldenford’s (http://www.goldenford.co.uk/) lists at some stage over the next year or so, depending on what my fellow directors say. Mind you, our future publication list is getting longer (which is great!) so I don’t know when that might be.

I had a long chat with Lord H last night when he came back from theology class about why it is that we both admit to being a lot happier and more optimistic about life ‘n’ stuff in our late twenties and throughout our thirties, but now we’re in our forties, all that seems to be slipping away. Is it age? A growing cynicism? Or something more sinister? It’s a mystery really. But I do tend to stare out of my office window whilst at the university and watch all those young 20s walking by and I envy them utterly. Not that I’d want to be that age again – I wouldn’t; it was horrendous. But I envy the sense of optimism I had then and which they must have now about life being hopeful and being able to do anything you might want. One day. That’s the feeling I have less and less these days. And my moments of pure happiness are fewer too. I remember feeling happy whilst at the Japanese Garden in Kew, or at the National Trust house we went to recently, or looking at the blossom on the trees, but it doesn’t stay long and doesn’t come often. And I’m sure I used to have those happy, hopeful moments far more often when younger – even when I was going through hell. Weird really. I don’t know the answer to it.

All this has been sparked off by my reading of Authentic Happiness, my current self-help book. It’s really making me think – I’ve done the Optimism/Pessimism tests and was shocked to find that (far from being optimistic, which I’d hoped to be at heart – somewhere …?), I’m actually a Moderate Pessimist. I’m sure I wouldn’t have been that in my 20s … I was so worried that I actually mentioned this to the boss today, thinking he might express surprise, but he didn’t, darn it. Though he did try to reassure me by saying he didn’t think I was an Extreme Pessimist. Ah well.

Either way, Lord H and I have decided that, although we like being together and couldn’t imagine the alternative, we don’t actually like life that much. Not as a concept anyway. And actually God isn’t proving a barrel of laughs at the moment either. So we’ve decided we should try being outdoors more as, at the very least, if we’re still unhappy, then we’ll be outside being unhappy, rather than inside being miserable. If you see what I mean. We might even draw up a list of what we like doing and try doing more of those sorts of things to cheer ourselves up. (Steady there, at the back ...!)

Hey ho. Life in sunny Godalming is a laugh a minute, I can tell you!

Anyway, I’ve busied myself with catching up at work, and looking at the Health Centre website again, with a view to changing it. At last! And we’ve finally got notification through that the Lead Doctor has resigned. Heck, he was on sabbatical last year and never came back, but nobody would talk about it. I sooo hate that when that happens – honestly, the educational world is getting more like the commercial one every day – much to its detriment in some ways. It's inhumane, as far as I can see. But I for one would have liked to say a proper goodbye to the Good Doctor and am sad – and disappointed – that the powers that be have chosen to do this. Sticks in the gullet rather. Anyway, I’ve sent our former colleague a goodbye and good luck email – hope he gets it somehow.

Had my next reflexology session at lunchtime. Bliss – as ever. I felt really calm afterwards. Where would I be without it? Goodness knows. Next time – which, due to diaries, turns out to be in early June, dammit! – I’m going to try some Reiki, as I am hoping to achieve a new sense of balance and harmony. Pause for cynical comment – but I won’t make one this time, as I’m too pessimistic already, ha!

However, my day has been cheered by a rare sighting of two very hot men on campus - one who opened a door for me this morning (delicious sigh ...) and another, with glorious red hair, this afternoon. More delicious sighing and joy! It's so rare that totty is sighted at work and it's a pleasure to see it now and again. They're obviously raising the standards of meeting attenders in educational circles. Hurrah! Hell, maybe it is the menopause after all ...

Oh, and Laura Wilkinson from Myspace (http://www.myspace.com/lauracwilkinson) – who works with the HagsHarlotsHeroines site (http://www.hagsharlotsheroines.com/) is thoroughly enjoying A Dangerous Man (http://www.flamebooks.com/) and would like to do an interview with me for the HHH site. Thank you hugely, Laura – looking forward to that for sure!

Tonight, I’m off to the pub seeing Jane H and Tanya, which I’m looking forward to. A girls’ night out, but locally and with only two people. Bliss!

Today’s nice things:

1. Reflexology
2. Laura W’s enthusiasm for ADM
3. Seeing the gals.

Anne Brooke


Cathy said...

It can probably all be explained by two words:

Midlife Crisis



Anne Brooke said...

Groan ...



Jackie Luben said...

I agree completely with Cathy. I remember feeling very depressed around 40. But all is not lost. You come out of it on to the other side. Life races past, it's true, and that's frightening,but you stop thinking so much about long term future plans and think more about short term plans.

But stop examining your navel and wondering if you're happy. I very rarely ask myself that. 'I have been with friends/husband/on a trip/writing/reading (delete as appropriate) and I enjoyed it,' is as far as I would go.

Anne Brooke said...

Ooh, that's good to know, Jackie - there's hope for this old bird yet then, ho ho!

Can't say I agree with the navel (non-)examination point though - I prefer to think of it as working towards living an examined (and therefore - at least for me - more whole) life. I think it's good to think of these things on a regular basis; otherwise how do I know what I feel or, indeed, what I want?