How not to be a wind-up toy.

Yesterday the-wonderful-Amanda (full title) mentioned a friend who lives life at a breakneck pace. She described her as having a wheel on her back hidden under her clothes, and said she frequently asks her the question “Who’s driving you today?”.

I pictured this brilliant woman imagining that, hidden from polite society under her coat, a cartoon character with a glint in his eye drives her faster and faster, goggles on.


A throw away comment and not necessarily mentioned for my benefit (although i wonder…) but I felt the gentle sting of recognition.

After all I have learnt, after all I talk and write about now: Of not being pushed or pulled by others expectations of you. Of learning to say no to things that aren’t good for you. Of rest and recovery and living well…

I heard the words for me again, “who’s driving you?”.

I am human.

I forget.

Life gets busy quickly. And I am well and I am coping with it. And for the most part it is good. People I wanted to see. Jobs I wanted to take. Books I wanted to read and places I wanted to go.

But it is good to stop and ask myself the question, ‘Why?’

And, ‘Who or what am I doing these things for?’

And even if the answer to that is – I’m doing them for me and the people I love, because I want to –

Can I do it all? Or is it too much?

It is so easy to slip into feeling driven, without even recognising it. As though an invisible force propels you through the day. To achieve, to accomplish, to function, to relate, to succeed… to survive.

And although, for me, this force does not have the destructive bent it once did, I can still find myself not-at-the-helm of the my own life. I feel driven by the desire to have a tidy house – even if just for a few hours, by wanting to have achieved something in my day, by the need to feel organised – at least a little in control – replying to party invites, making (and buying) world book day costumes, preparing a workshop, making the tea, ticking the boxes and checking things off the list.

And none of these are bad things. It is good to work hard and I like the way it feels.

But I want to add some other forces that propel me. An operator who remembers I need to fill the petrol tank regularly (yes, I’m tiring of this analogy too). That I need time for me, to rest, to relax, to laugh and be without any productive outcome.

I’d also like to find, within myself, a driver who really knows how to delegate. (Maybe I’m looking for a chauffeur?) I am getting better at this, to the extent that I am even talking about the possibility of regular childcare whether I have a job I go out of the house to, or not – maybe just so i can spend more time writing. This is a big step forward for me. I have long suffered under the misapprehension that i should be able to do it all…

…Or at least that I should be able to do ‘all things through Christ who gives me strength’ which I had reinterpreted as I should be able to do ‘all things- because if I don’t it shows I am not trusting- in Christ who gives me strength’. Which is not very healthy.

And I’d also like to reacquaint myself with the driver who goes out on a Sunday drive, just for the pleasure of the wind in her hair and the sun on her face (It is a kind of California-in-an-open-top-car-driving-Big-Sur experience).


The just for the sheer pleasure of it, motorist. No agenda, nowhere to be, no schedules or specific destination.

I read this blog by Emily Freeman yesterday too. It is about finding unproductive things to do, just… because it is good for us to remember we are more than what we do, what we achieve, what we produce.

When a couple of different things seem to be telling me the same thing in the space of a couple of hours, i try and listen.

But this reminder is not a rebuke- a stop sign, or a road block. It is a gentle reminder. A signpost.

Rest. Relax. It is finished. You have nothing to prove.

1 Comment
  • beccitamaklo
    Posted at 18:34h, 04 March Reply

    Ah thank you Elli…. as I finish reading I breathe out, encouraged by your insights xx

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