Ralph Waldo Emerson
I've often found his words inspirational and, at times, I've followed his advice. Smart man, Emerson, as was his fellow Transcendentalist, Thoreau, to whom I was introduced almost twenty years ago by the most mixed-up, maniacal, mad man I've ever encountered; an American, one of the guys with whom I worked in a remote, separated-by-time-zones, US-team, kind of way, so I never came face to face with him, which is probably a blessing really.
Different directions, new paths, making tracks...
That's the theme round here.
I am preparing to go back to Brittany and this time, unlike the last occasion when I moved across Oxfordshire to this current rented house and decided it was A Good Idea to work until 6:30 pm the day before and to start packing at 2 am on the morning of the move, this time I am going to be organised and efficient and save myself from the almost-breaking-down that happened then.
So, there have been quite a few trips to Streatley to deliver books to my friend who, having read the ones that interest her, takes them to her local pub to be sold in aid of the Air Ambulance.
I've culled at least a hundred so far, many of them cookbooks, and am now viewing the shelves in the bedroom with a growing sense of alarm because, goodness, how did I manage to acquire quite so many new books in the last seven years?
Yes, reading a hundred last year may have contributed to the hoard.
And then there are the clothes...
You know how it is, the several different sets of clothes:
1. Worn regularly, a small subset
2. Several sizes too small but won't throw them out in case I lose weight
3. Sentimental items, silly to keep the top I wore when I was pregnant twenty-five years ago that's decorated with a picture of a baby and the legend 'Under Construction', my first ski suit, etc
4. Expensive, smart items I'll never wear in the Breton countryside but should I ever become a famous author and be invited to go on a book tour, well, I'll be sorted
This is the result of having been born at a time when Britain was still recovering from rationing and my parents were poor as church mice.
Waste not, want not...
And the food cupboard in which I appear to have been stockpiling tins in readiness for a coming apocalypse. That's genetic with me, my father was a Safety Adviser and always ready for any eventuality, my mother was a Yorkshire woman and never trusted life down south, my grandparents lived through two world wars and I still have the tin of hot dogs that I bought in preparation for the New Millennium Meltdown.
I am, and always will be, one of those people who cannot stop buying dried pasta and bread flour when three snowflakes fall on my house, or bottles of water and tins of beans when I read another ridiculous Tweet from Trump and picture him with his fat little fingers on America's nuclear arsenal.
I am lucky to have the conservatory/sunroom in which to start piling the boxes.
And yes, those large boxes under cover outside do contain my new bed (first new one in thirty years), and garden furniture and deckchairs and new pictures, statues of dragons, throws and rugs, because I have no idea how long I will last and I fully intend to make each and every day fun and to be comfy and happy back in my French home.
It will be all new to me.
Not the house, of course, that's been mine for nine years, and not the friends and neighbours because ditto, but the moving back alone and the new occupation as a freelancer and the new attitude...
And there's the rub
The new attitude.
You see, I've done it before, this walking away from the stresses and strains of the corporate cage. I did it in 2006 and it didn't last long. I came back, voluntarily, happily, enthusiastically, and walked right back into the Rat Race Rat Trap.
And it almost killed me.
And even now, after a year of sick leave, I am still finding it really difficult to extricate myself from the world of IT and cyber security and bits and bytes and malware and evil people.
And this recent business with the ransomware hasn't helped.
And even now, two years after my cancer diagnosis, I am still finding it hard to stop stressing and worrying even though I'm well aware of the harm that's doing to me.
And negotiating a settlement from my employers isn't helping.
So, yes I will take a new path, and yes I will make new tracks, and yes, it will be a different direction, but if I am not capable of changing myself, well then I'll find that wherever I go and whatever I do, I'll just end up back where I started.
Stressed and sick.
And that will not do at all.