No Man’s Land

I am a list maker. An organiser. A planner.

I also love spontaneity. Surprises. Decisions made so quickly the question mark still lingers in the air.

How do I balance these two contrasting aspects of my personality? I am two people, I’ve said it before, and these two people war constantly with one another – they contradict, challenge, question, compete, and some days the internal debate around getting out of bed leaves me exhausted, let alone the ongoing debate of life. I make plans. I write lists. I try to organise myself to have an idea of what I want in three years. In five years. In thirty years. I crave surprises. I make rash decisions. I can be so spontaneous that the appeal of jumping on a plane to anywhere tomorrow is so strong I have to take deep, measured breaths to calm myself.

Internal conflict is one of those things that a good, fleshed out character is supposed to have – but I don’t feel like a good, fleshed out character. I feel exhausted. Frustrated. Constantly confused. The act of calming myself and breathing in and out and in and out can sometimes leave me hyperventilating in the foetal position.

Except …

There is a time when these two warring parties unite.

It’s not a treaty. No one surrenders. It’s just one of those things on which they manage to work together. They don’t even acknowledge each other – it’s just done.

We can write.

The Planner draws plot wheels on the walls and writes out a list of characters and events that will take place.

Then within three sentences everything changes – the spontaneous kicks over the plot wheel and everything bursts forth without control or apparent reason.

The Planner makes a return at the beginning of every writing session, setting out what has taken place and planning the next round before the Spontaneous grasps excitedly at the ideas and turns them inside out. Back comes the Planner who checks that there is some semblance of structure and order before the Spontaneous has her wicked way with the list and shreds it to pieces.

The Planner creates a skeleton.

The Spontaneous breathes life into it.

Together, they enter no man’s land and clear out the dead, the wounded, the lost. They absorb the despair and the loss and the frustration and they work side-by-side to make the space fresh once more. Writing makes me aware of the possibilities of “peace” within myself, of the Planner and the Spontaneous being able to work alongside one another. But another voice, the snarling voice of self-doubt that strikes fear into both the Planner and the spontaneous, makes me doubt that peace is ever possible. Can I reclaim that no man’s land as mine or am I destined to a constant war within? When it comes down to it, it’s about living my passion. And that terrifies me. It cannot be controlled. It cannot be planned. And the idea of abandoning “the plan” and doing it makes my soul sing.

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