Who's in control?

Trip Start Sep 30, 2005
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Trip End Jun 04, 2006


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Flag of United Kingdom  ,
Thursday, February 2, 2006

It's a series of questions many of us have to answer at some point. Who is in control of my life? What is there to be in control of? What is it important to worry about controlling? What is it that's important to me?

Working away from home is not unusual for me or many others. Life in a hotel is a novelty for a week or two and then it starts to grind. The reality of not being at liberty to choose how you enrich your life and spend your personal time starts to strike home. The good intentions of going to the gym or finding a routine give way to mental fatigue at the end of the day. There are temptations to just lie on your bed when you get in from work, there's the desire to make phone calls to friends and family that you can't meet because of the job, or the friendly hotel staff offering a beer and a chat in the lounge. You meet your basic needs, but sometimes you don't make the best choices. You know what you should do, could do, but there are too many nights of poor sleep in yet another hotel room and somehow the will is sapped by cumulative fatigue.

It's pitiful to play the victim and to say that you can't do anything to make yourself feel better, because you can, but as the mind tires, there's a growing resentment at the feeling of having your life messed up by work. Here, if anything the problem is not too much work but too little, and the boredom this brings by day accentuates the irritation at the sacrifices you are making by night for something of so little value - even to your employer. Even writing this, it feels as though it's a moan, a complaint, a self-indulgent whinge, a wallow in self-pity, but I promise it isn't. Perhaps you have to go through the experience to understand what happens. To have a work-related focus would make it easier, but that's not here on this project, and somehow, for whatever reason I seem to have lost focus on myself too.

When you travel, you can choose what you do each and every day. When you live at home and work, you can change your plans, on your time, every day. Here, my personal freedom comprises about 60 hours a week and the rest of if I'm where somebody else says I have to be. I thought that community based prison sentences and curfews were a soft option in judicial sentencing, but now I'm not so sure. Undoubtedly, in my case the transfer from the total freedom of moving across continents to this sentence of mine accentuates these feelings. I think that, most of all, because my own personal time has shrunk and my weekends are so much more precious I use them to the max, and whilst this is fun I don't stop to relax. When you're away with work, you still think about it, because whatever you do in the evening the fact that you're where is about work and it can define you, so however much you kid yourself, you don't switch off. The mind doesn't get the downtime it needs. But then, to take the downtime at weekends would be to give in totally to the whims of a job and to deny your freedom.

If this is self-indulgent hole digging on my part, rather than seeking a positive resolution, then it's a lesson to be learned, but the more I contemplate it and try to grapple with what's happening to me (you see, you don't ever switch off), the more I return to those major life defining questions about who's running my life. It's about much more than one insignificant little piece of work to be done in Glasgow. It's more about how I came to be where I am and whether I want to be there in the future.
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