Fear and self-loathing in East Devon


I had about a quarter of a great day yesterday, and I can’t figure out why it stopped there.

The love of my life is away, leaving me with dominion. I can do what the roaring hell I want, so long as the list of jobs on the kitchen blackboard get ticked off. It started pretty well, and quite traditionally, with a Friday night horror flick, although ‘Death Note‘ was more fun than horrific.

A Saturday morning bike ride seemed the perfect way to kickstart the weekend. I headed out at 8am and, all told, covered 40 miles through crisp and sunny Devon lanes. Ordinarily I’d arrive back home intoxicated by a cocktail of endorphins and smugness which would see me through the rest of the day. But.

After 27 miles my back wheel started grating slightly. Turned out the spring mechanism on the rear brakes had cracked somehow, and one side was resting against the wheel. Nothing I could do to fix it, but it was fine to ride home. Before heading off, I checked the app on my phone which had been tracking the ride. It credited me with 21 miles, rather than the 27 I knew I’d done. And that was that. Day ruined, pretty much.

Why? Instead of riding straight home, I carried on around the route and did a further 14 miles. That was a small triumph, surely? After an admittedly fiddly and irritating couple of hours I found a way to correct the online record of the route, and to claim back the lost miles. I bought some new brakes in Sidmouth too. So, nothing lost and a little gained, right? Wrong.

I did the other stuff I’d planned, walked the dog in the sunshine, painted the wall outside the house, opened a new back account, ate some good food, avoided watching Saturday night TV, I even tidied up the mess I’d made of the house just because I could, but all these little positive accruals felt like mere token scrapings at the foot of the landslide of ill-feeling caused by a broken brake and a few lost miles. Fair enough, I spent much of the evening trying, and failing, to fit the new brakes, instead of listening to records and reading my book, but the foul weather had set in for the day well before that frustration.

Why? Why can one or two minor glitches, quickly overcome, cause fault lines through the rest of a great day? And why, presented with a whole weekend to do with as I wish, am I crushed by the self-fulfilling fear that I’ll waste the opportunity? How stupid, self-defeating and utterly beyond my control. And should I tag this post with ‘depression’ or ‘idiot’ or ‘get over it, loser’?

Today will be better. At least if those brakes go on properly.