Ten steps to happiness:  do the first thing.  do the second thing.  do the third thing.  etc. etc. etc. etc. You get the idea. Seven steps to beating anxiety:  do the first thing.  do the second thing.  do the third thing.  etc etc. etc. etc. Four steps to mending a broken relationship:  – yes, that’s it – do the thing.  You’ve got it. How to lead a happy and successful life. How to win friends and influence people. How to be the life and soul of the party. Yes you guessed it. Demonic laughter in the background. Filthy dirty laughter. Bellowing laughter. The mad god is laughing in your face and you don’t know what to do. You’re confused, you’re at a loss. You don’t know what to think anymore.
I’m kind of flashing back to my childhood here. The laughter in the background. Maybe it’s my own mind? Maybe it never happened. I’m internalising the blame. The filthy dirty jeering. It’s definitely my own mind. Or is it? And of course everyone else seems to know exactly what the next step is. Everyone else knows how to do the thing. They’re all doing the thing. The whole world is doing the thing. Just look at them! They’re so busy doing the thing – the all-consuming thing! They’re all talking to each other about the thing and all that it entails. Talking about how they’re getting on with doing it. Is it going well, is it not going well. And they all understand each other perfectly. I don’t understand, though. I don’t understand anything.
A giant voice is booming in my head. ‘Do the thing!’ it roars. It’s a deafening voice, a megaphone voice. It’s the God of Small Places and he’s pissing himself laughing. The stench of the mad god’s urine is unbelievably rank. It could knock you out. You could pass out. Everyone’s busy doing the thing but you don’t know what the thing is – you don’t know what the thing is and you don’t know how to do it. Of course you don’t know how to do it. You don’t even know how to begin doing it. You don’t want to do it either but you’re frightened not to. We know you’re supposed to and you know it feels very bad when you don’t do it.
I’ve regressed back to my childhood. I’m baffled but I know I’m not allowed to show it. I’m making a vague attempt to pretend that I’m doing the thing. I’m making a vestigial attempt, a half-hearted attempt. It’s barely an attempt at all but at least I am making it. It’s a half-hearted nod in the general direction of conformity! I know enough to know that a vague vestigial attempt to pretend that you’re doing the thing is better than not pretending at all! You’ve at least got to pretend to pretend! That much is understood. That much goes without saying. You don’t have a clue as to what it is that you’re pretending to pretend, but at least you’re going through the motions in some sort of a way.
That’s it anyway. That’s my childhood, I mean. That’s my experience of being at school and trying to pretend that I was somehow trying to fit in. Trying to pretend that I knew what the thing was and that I was trying to do it. At least there will be some acceptance for that – they know you can’t do the thing and that you’re quite hopeless at it but they (thankfully) don’t realise that you don’t even know what the thing is! What would they say then? But then the next thing was that it was suddenly all over and so none of that mattered any more. They’re not interested in you anymore. They never were interested in you really – they were only ever interested if you showed promise in doing the thing, but I never did.