Sometimes I get this feeling in my chest. It's like I'm packed tightly with balloons, or some kind of electricity, and it snakes down into my hands and sparks at my fingertips. I'm so restless that I can barely stand it, and I have to have some kind of stimulation - I have to write something, eat something, read something, anything.
I've never had a name for it, but recently I realised it's not that complicated. It's impatience, pure and simple. I am a very, very impatient person - if not with others, then with myself.
I kinda blame social media. The world, with all of its shouting and seething, is in the palm of my hand whenever I want it. My synapses feel a bit fried by all the constant information overload. And then when that's not there, it's like my brain goes into a panic, seeking some kind of entertainment. It's made me more restless and more impatient than ever.
So I have been practising patience.
It's nothing radical - just a bit of screen-free time while travelling, first thing in the morning and last thing at night. No phone, no laptop, not even my book or notepad. Just... sitting.
I tried it first on the bus on the way to my fitness class. Usually, I'd listen to my music while reading or scrolling through Instagram, and simply sitting still felt weird. My hands kept gravitating to my bag without me noticing, as if pulled by a magnet.
I looked around instead, trying to appreciate the moment, trying to notice things. Things that will only ever exist in that one moment. It was rush hour and the bus was packed, windows all steamed up and foggy. We were all pressed an inch too close together, and we bristled every time the bus jolted and we were forced to touch.
The man next to me wore a knee-length leather jacket and thin-rimmed specs, and hunched over his phone as he furiously typed a vehement tweet to the local authority (might have peeked over his shoulder). Every time someone boarded the bus, they pushed roughly past him, but he barely seemed to notice.
We stopped sharply at a light on Granville Street. Someone had tried to wipe the condensation from the window opposite me, and through a hand-shaped hole I could see it had started to snow again. It was piling up in fluffy clumps on a nearby bench. A woman walked past, and the dog she was walking gleefully stuck its nose into the snow. It made me smile.
Further down the street, the neon lights of the theatres and nightclubs illuminated our way. It looked like a colourful carnival, laid out just for us.
As our bus ambled on, and countless more gorgeous little details unravelled in front of me, something strange started to happen. I started having ideas; ideas for stories, character details, poems. Good fiction is made up of relatable details, so what good is a writer if they don't notice things? If I'd been staring down at a tiny square in my palm for that short, 25-minute bus-ride, I would have missed so much.
So I'm practising patience. And it's really, really hard - my mind doesn't want to do it. It's lazy, and it wants to do easy things, like Instagram and Twitter and Facebook. But the brain is a muscle like any other, I guess - I have to keep working it to get it to do what I want.
Do you ever feel this, too, or is it just me? (Probably just me.)