I am The One.

I love nature.
One of the most instantly calming activities I like to do when I’m close to yanking handfuls of hair out by the roots is to take a good long walk outside. The smells, the colours, the fresh new air that hasn’t already taken a trip or two through the lungs of other family members… it’s all good.

However, since developing anxiety it has become a bittersweet experience. I can no longer aimlessly ramble around until I get lost, and then aimlessly ramble a bit more until by some miracle I find my way back home again.

Now I have to carry a phone with me at all times. It has become a magical artifact that will tell me where I am at any given time ( Oh GPS, how I do love thee. ) It will give me something to stare at intently to avoid eye contact with random strangers, and as a shield against distinctly unwelcome Small Talk. And most importantly it will summon aid when I’m minding my own business and suddenly find myself being assaulted by a small group of women who think I’m filming them to put them on YouTube, when in reality I was just trying to send a message to my Significant Other that said “Damn. The shop is closed.”

That last one did my anxiety the world of good, I can tell you.

So every trip outside means gripping my phone firmly in my right hand, inside my pocket, at all times. And checking it at random intervals, just to be on the safe side. The extra extra super safe side.
However, I’m aware that stopping to stare at your phone every 10 steps or so is not only annoying for other pedestrians ( not that many seem to be moving at any discernible pace around here. The majority are housewives shuttling their offspring and they appear to have allllllll the time in the world. I really think the pavement should have a slow lane around schools where these women can dawdle at will, eventually making it home with just enough time to scrape off the moss that has grown around their ankles during the morning school run, before setting off at an oh-so-leisurely pace for the afternoon school pick-up.)

Anyway, I’ve taken to looking at my phone on the fly, and that pretty much works for me. My anxiety has fine tuned my peripheral vision, so walking collisions are practically non-existent.
But…
It only works with moving objects, so there has been the odd occasion where I’ve walked into annoyingly stationary posts, inconveniently immobile walls, and frustratingly static doors. I’m sure I must have appeared in a YouTube video or two myself.

And every now and again whilst strolling beneath the trees I will get one of those tiny green caterpillars that hang from a thread from the leaves land on me, which I will gently relocate to somewhere green and leafy, and I am upon my merry way.
Except this morning it wasn’t a caterpillar. It was a spider. And the side of me that adores exaggerating for comic effect would dearly love to say it was the size of a damn apple, but in all truthfulness it would be pushing the boundaries a bit to claim it was more grape-sized.

I hate spiders.
I was fine with them as a small child until one day I came in from the garden, only for my mother to find a big fat garden spider twisted up in my waist-length hair, who then proceeded to shriek and beat me about the head with a newspaper. My mother that is, not the spider. He wasn’t quite newspaper-wielding size. That was the day I learned that you can inherit a phobia. In this case it taught me to be terrified of both spiders and my mother brandishing a weapon of any sort.
So here I am, one minute checking my phone, the next I look up and I swear, this thing is hanging an inch from my face. And I just know it wants to crawl up my nose and lay baby spider eggs in my brain.

What on earth has this to do with the Daily Prompt “Graceful”? Let me tell you.
Have you ever seen the “Bullet Time” scene from the Matrix? Now imagine a woman tentatively approaching middle age instead of a fabulously ageless Mr Reeves. “Graceful” might be pushing it a bit.
Had anyone seen me limboing along the sidewalk, arms flailing around like I’m tandem squid-hurling, then I probably wouldn’t ever have trouble getting people to move out of my way again.

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Like this, except Keanu looks better in tight black pants.
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The Post Where I Realized Something About Life That You’d Really Think I’d Have Worked Out Years Ago.

I’ve always believed in omens. Maybe it’s because I’m terminally indecisive and almost pathologically incapable of following any sort of life plan no matter how low maintenance. Either way, I’m always keeping one eye open ( not literally, that would pretty much freak out everyone around me ) for portents offering guidance and some sort of divine insider knowledge.

It’s a test of sorts…to see these things, interpret them correctly, and henceforth not make a complete pig’s ear of your entire existence. So, no pressure.
Has this led me along the right path so far? I suspect not. I’m not what you’d qualify as an overachiever. Or even a slightly-under-par-but-we’ll-just-turn-a-blind-eye-to-it achiever. In fairness, my life hasn’t gone down in a screaming fireball of raging misjudgments which would make the word “shambles” weep with its inadequacy, but when I think about how I’ve done so far there’s an awful lot of awkwardly staring at my feet and shuffling from side to side.
Yet, I keep an eye open for those harbingers and trust my intuition to take me to inner peace with a side order of absolute greatness.
Imagine then, how I felt to see this on my iPad camera roll :

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Wha…?

Apart from the appalling camera work, this is peculiar in a few ways.
1) I did not take this photo. Neither did anyone else in my family, and this pad never leaves the house.
2) Sherbet lemons? These aren’t even available in this country.. where on earth was this taken?
3) Why would anybody want to photograph a sherbet lemon box?
4) I didn’t take this photo! I know I mentioned this before, but I think as a particularly salient point it bears repeating.

Then it came to me! It’s a sign!! Look!

So I looked. What was the universe trying to tell me? Was it something about life being essentially bittersweet? Was it a “when life gives you lemons” analogy? What was the answer to this sour hard-boiled candy cue? I stared and stared. I was going to pass this test, dammit.

Then it dawned on me.
Life was telling me to go suck it.

Life can be such an ass sometimes.

Life in a nutshell. The emphasis is obviously on “nuts”.

I am leading what is possibly the shockingly least utilized of cat litter analogies … a non-clumping State Of Being.

Not only is my life wildly distributed over the Hallway Of Existence, but is also firmly ingrained in the Fluffy Socks Of Achievement. Whilst the rest of the world seems to be scooping and disposing of their existential poop possibly one-handedly whilst whistling a cheery tune and blatantly getting on with their lives, I’m still lugging the 3rd bag of “EZ Scatter” up 3 flights of stairs and jovially trying to convince myself that yes, chest pains are totally normal, don’t be a wuss.

Why I can’t seem to get my life together is a matter of great debate, albeit mostly within my own head. It can get very heated. Some times blame is thrust upon the mis-firings or chemical imbalances in what passes for my brain. Occasionally the finger is tentatively pointed at hormones. Or the weather. Or my Significant Other Looking At Me In A Funny Way. And all these things certainly play their parts, admittedly.

It is, as they say, what it is.

Those nearest and dearest pat my arm and say, “It’s OK. You’re OK. I’m sure you would be different if you could be.”
But I disagree. Do I wish I had clarity of focus to learn new things and do the things I already know faster, more accurately, and with a jaw-dropping flair that would gain me obscenely massive piles of cash?
Well…obviously.
Cash is always nice.
But I don’t think I would change. A sneaky part of me likes the chaos. The inner child who stops to watch a snail and gently pokes an eye stalk and giggles. The me that is fascinated by Autumnal sunrises, and who thinks that..dammit..women in their 40’s should be allowed to wear fluffy beanie hats with fake cat ears without attracting widespread public derision.
Life would be very boring were we all the same, I constantly tell my children. And anyone else’s children given half a chance. It’s all well and good being super-organised, but there’s a lot to be said for embracing your eccentricity… warts, fluffy ears, and all.
So I shall haul the extra bags of litter up the stairs of life and be grateful that at the very least I have cats. Otherwise that would just be an incredibly peculiar workout routine.

I’m strange…but I’m not *that* strange.