by Emma Boyns
I stare blankly at my laptop screen and attempt to correlate my work diary with my home diary, my eyes scanning squares with brief notes and digits firmly fixed inside. I feel sick. It’s this familiar feeling that starts somewhere deep inside my chest, as if a little ball of energy is knotting itself too tightly and is becoming all tangled. Sometimes I can untangle it with a flow of air dragged deeply into my lungs, or the soft, undulating tones of the Spotify playlist I’ve devised specially for moments like these. But more often than not it beats me, works itself into a bigger mass until I can feel it at the back of my throat pushing waves of nausea over me. My stomach churns and my appetite vanishes. I want to cry and scream simultaneously and yet I seem unable to make either happen.
Today is one of those overwhelming times. And so I close my laptop and walk away from the glare of the fortnight ahead. I turn my back on the professional promises I have made, the work commitments I have booked, and I try to breathe. I try to regain my balance as an individual and let the rest of the world lose its sharpness.
“Sometimes, the only way I can keep moving forward is to not look ahead.”
The sun is strong. I lay on the grass of my parents’ garden, watching tiny beetles and speckled bugs scuttling over blades of grass that suddenly seem so much more prominent than before. I can feel the heat soaking into the parts of my skin that are in the dappled light and I realise that I’d forgotten just how hot this sun can feel; weeks of feeling depressed coupled with a lack of desire to go outside had left me wondering if the warmth I remembered from last summer was something I had imagined. And yet here it is again, in all its golden glory. The elderflowers are slowly unfurling their petals and the robin hopping across the garden seems out of place among the vivid greens and purples of the foliage.
Here, in this moment, everything is calm and quiet and blissfully free. I can feel my pulse steadily repeating itself and my mind slowing, calming, ceasing to worry or obsess.
Sometimes, the only way I can keep moving forward is to not look ahead. Today I have felt the sun on my skin and blades of grass between my fingers and, most importantly, I have felt able to be alive. I can’t hide from that thin, silver laptop forever and I can’t stay in my parents’ garden for long, but I can remember that however impossible the future seems, it is only formed of a collection of days. And today I’ve conquered the first.