Liberator! Part 7

‘Wake up, you’ll be late for work!’ Amy was shaking him to stir him from his slumber. Tim didn’t want to wake up. He’d been dreaming that he was on top of a mountain, looking out across the expansive vista of other mountains and trees on the slopes below.

‘I’m not going to work,’ he mumbled from under the duvet.

‘Are you ill?’ Amy quizzed.

‘Nope.’

‘Working from home again?’

‘No!’

‘Have you got a day off? You didn’t tell me if you have!’ she sounded tetchy.

‘No,’ Tim sighed. ‘I’m just not going to work.’

‘I don’t know what the hell’s wrong with you,’ Amy snapped as she flung herself from the bed and dashed about making herself ready.

Tim tensed. He felt a strange sense of déjà vu and something else just beneath the tension. A tingle of excitement and apprehension perhaps.

Before long, Amy had left for work and Tim found himself alone. He turned over and slept for another hour before being awoken by his phone. He turned over and picked up the device that lay buzzing and bleeping from his bedside table. He checked the caller ID. Seeing that it was Flashman, he killed the call and turned over again and slept for another half an hour before getting up and enjoying a leisurely breakfast. This was novel! But before long the novelty wore off and he began to feel restless. Restlessness gave way to agitation. He felt twitchy, fidgety. Resisting the urge to continually check and recheck his email was almost more than he could endure. It seemed unnatural, somehow. To remove the source of temptation, he stitched off his laptop and went for a walk. He had no idea where he was going. It didn’t matter: he simply needed to be out. He hesitated momentarily as he deliberated with himself over whether or not he should take his Blackberry. Going anywhere, even as far as the lavatory, or the back yard, felt somehow wrong, like a breach of protocol, or worse, like heading into a war zone without any kind of arms or protection.

The first thing that struck him was the extreme quietness that hung in the still air. He inhaled deeply and looked up, soaking in the sky’s blue hue and the delicate patterns the clouds traced across the vast expanse. Before long, he became aware that there were sounds to be heard, that the world was not silent. Sirens, but distant, sounded more calming than they did urgent. Birds chirped.

***

He awoke is a panic-stricken sweat. His jaw ached from grinding his teeth. His bruxism was beginning to wear him down, causing frequent toothache and dental sensitivity. He’d treated the last week like a holiday. He’d even let the charge on his Blackberry run down so he wasn’t being hassled by notifications of incoming messages or calls or texts and wasn’t tempted to switch it on. Ignoring the land-line was rather harder, but he’d turned the ringer down, or otherwise taken himself off for walks, drives and cycle rides. He’d spent all of Thursday from midday onwards in the pub.

So far, he knew inside himself that up to now he had only been dabbling, a few small token approximations of the principles of self-liberation. Small wonder nothing had really changed. He still felt tired and stressed and was still struggling to manage his time. Friday night he found himself walking aimlessly, a little drunk but alert in the cool night air. It was as he wandered he found himself struck dumb by a moment of clarity. This was his epiphany, and with it the realisation it had to be all or nothing.

 

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Liberator! Part 5

Tim rose at 6:30am and was at his laptop, set up on the rarely-used dining table, working, by 6:45. Still in his dressing gown, with a strong coffee, he sat blearily in front of the screen. He rubbed his eyes with his thumb and forefinger. His skin felt rough and dry, his eyes sensitive and watery. He was exhausted, and this was reflected in his sallow appearance. The text was beginning to drift before his eyes as he read it again and again. The text was beginning to drift before his eyes as he read it again and again.

It was after 11pm when he finally called it a night. He felt exhausted, yet his mind would not cease in its cogitations. Around midnight, after a large glass of wine, Tim retired to the bedroom and snuggled up beside his recumbent partner. He closed his eyes but behind his eyelids images flickered like a cut-up reel of cine film. He turned over and over as his mind turned his list of tasks for the next few days over and over. His heart rate began to increase, until it almost reached the point of fibrillation and sweat was running in rivers from every pore. It was no use. Tim simply could not sleep. Gingerly, he slipped from under the duvet and stealthily made his way back downstairs. Amy continued to sleep soundly.

Arriving in the living room, Tim did not turn on any lights and instead made his way silently to the window and stood behind the crack in the curtains. The street outside was dark and silent, yet unexpectedly bright, illuminated by the bright orange sodium haze of the street lights, one of which was in front of the house directly opposite. The curtains of the house were open, and there was a light in the upstairs window. He watched as a figure entered and exited the room. In shadow, he was unable to observe their features. It felt strange to be alone in darkness and at this time of night: Tim usually remained in bed, lying stock still so as not to disturb Amy, while him mind raced. Here and now, alone in the darkness and silence, with only the breathing of the house for company, his mind wandered. He projected himself outside into the long, anonymous, rectilinear street lined with almost identical red-brick terraced houses. He traversed the street like a ghost. His mind played in a flash a world in foment, in tumult, as rabid dogs and vigilantes prowled the alleyways. His heart raced with a heady blend of fear and excitement, the likes of which he hadn’t felt in years.

Taking a deep breath to calm himself, Tim retreated into the darkness and brought himself back to the reality of the here and now, his interior world. Pouring himself a shot of rum, he spotted the rather dubious pamphlet he had pickled up the other day lying on the coffee table. He didn’t recall placing it there, but nevertheless, he switched on the standard lamp and read as he sipped at his drink and waited for its soporific effects to take hold.

A recent survey found that people working from home work the equivalent of an extra 20 days a year, which almost counters their holiday entitlement. The technology that has facilitated what would first appear to be the perfect working solution and the best way to obtain a more comfortable work/life balance is thus a double-edged sword. Small wonder people don’t all want to rush home and check their inbox.

Be honest: how many times have you been gripped by fear at the prospect of logging in and checking your email, because of the idea of dealing with hassling correspondence from the bank and a slew of messages from people you can’t face replying to is simply too much? Email and mobile communications technology was hailed as a great means of keeping people in touch with one another. But how many proper emails do you send or receive?

Tim shook his head. He hated to acknowledge the fact, but this tract resonated with him. The way he spent – and wasted – hours trying to keep in contact with old friends and former colleagues, even more peripheral family members. He had the niggling feeling that life was too short to expend time and energy on people who couldn’t be bothered, but then, all too often he failed to respond to messages and emails from his friends. He felt like a cunt for doing so, but what could he do? He was busy – busy chasing his tail as he raced like a hamster on a wheel on the treadmill of life.

Tim was exhausted, but read on, slowly. He rubbed his eyes with his thumb and forefinger. His skin felt rough and dry, his eyes sensitive and watery. He was exhausted, and this was reflected in his sallow appearance.

To reclaim your life and liberate yourself from the tyranny of technology, and at the same time, take the following simple steps.

1: Do not log into Facebook for a week.

2: Stop sending emails, especially forwards and links.

3: Do not send any text messages.

4: Do not make any non-essential phone calls.

It seemed a bit extreme. On the other hand, Tim reflected for a moment just how much time he spent checking into Facebook and reading endless reams of status updates that were ultimately pointless. He didn’t need to know that Neil was tired after going to the gym, or how sick Jonathan had been after his brother’s stag night. More to the point, he simply didn’t have the time to become mired in the vapid empty existences of others. He had his own empty, vapid yet insufferably hectic life to live. What could he possibly learn from a pamphlet that he hadn’t already read and discarded from countless self-help manuals, forums and television programmes?

 

 

And if you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk