I am sitting in my living room with my eyes closed. The TV is on mute, and the radio in the kitchen is playing Lana Del Ray. The light is coming in from the window, painting the world pink behind my closed eyelids. I suck my lips in, aware of the stress bites on their edges, take a deep inhale, shoulders raising as I get up.
My feet leave their imprints on the wooden floor as I make my way to the kitchen. I turn the radio off, take the kettle off the stove and pour the boiling water in the mug that is already half full with lemon, honey, and a Rose teabag. I look out of the kitchen window. It looks like a nice day; nevertheless, I am glad to be staying in.
The last few weeks caught up with me. I ignored the coughs, shrugged the painful throat off, and convinced myself that the weakness behind my knees was nothing to worry about. You see, I have this built-in mechanism that will not allow me to realise how run down I am until the task on hand is finished. I now know that when I am booking holidays, the first week will be spent in bed, clutching a box of tissues, watching re-runs of Murder She Wrote, and drinking inhumane amounts of orange juice and tea. I am one of the I’m fine’, ‘the show must go on’, ‘make it through’ kind of people.
I need to keep going.
I was once in the gym, and on the treadmill next to me was a woman, gasping for air. Her personal trainer, a musclebound man in his 30s, covered the stats board with the complimentary towel, looking intensely at the screen on the wall, a rap video with two girls grinding on a car. Occasionally, without any visible reasoning behind it, he would lift the towel, careful so that the woman would not see it, and change the speed and gradient. The woman’s gaze would follow his hand, her lips curling up to a protest, until her eyes met the trainer’s determined face. She would then swallow hard, look forward, and occasionally wipe the sweat off her face. ‘Two more miles‘, he would say to her, his eyes watching the girls and the car; ‘you are almost there‘. Exasperated, the woman replied in between heavy breaths ‘I am just where I started’, but he didn’t seem to notice.
Sometimes I feel this way; I see it as my ‘life treadmill experience‘. I am on that treadmill, walking, running, thinking that I am covering a distance while staying on the same spot. The complimentary towel is covering my dashboard, and I am not sure how much I’ve run, or where I am, or how long it has been. It feels that I can not stop running, because if I do, the belt will keep spinning, the world will keep spinning, and I will fall on my face. My treadmill is invisible, the control keys are invisible, and all I can see is the screen on the wall.
However I realised that even though there is no stop button, there might be a pause one. And I might not be directly in control of the speed or gradient buttons, but I can influence them.
Taking a breath. A real breath. The kind of breath that gives you goosebumps at the base of your neck. Opening your eyes, and seeing things more clearly. Thinking of a person that you love, and allowing yourself to feel how warm they make your heart feel; allowing yourself to get excited for that moment when you think that your favourite show is on tonight. Having a takeaway when you are feeling down, having a good cry as you see The Notebook for the 5th time, or just listening to your body when it says it had enough.
These past few days, I listened. I paused. I looked at the mirror and saw someone that was making himself sick from trying too hard; from focusing on that screen, ignoring how run down I was. And as I sat on my sofa, I realised that I can give myself a break, and press that pause button on the treadmill.
Siting in absolute silence, drinking warm tea, closed eyes, deep breaths. The world will be here tomorrow. I am on pause.