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a few months back I came up with a quick test to determine my overall state of mind. I call it the Dover Beach Test, after the poem by Matthew Arnold. do you know it? I learnt this poem at school and have seen my life echoed in it down the years. I love its yearning, its historical scope, its beautiful descriptions and cadences.

here is the test. it’s quick – there is only one question.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you agree with the following statement?

‘Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.’

this morning my score is a nice round zero. yesterday it was about a 3. on Thursday it was a bleak-eyed 10.

I find the idea of a one-question test helpful – it is somewhat scary remembering how entirely I believe it when I do believe it. but knowing that there are zero and three days as well gives me a valuable perspective.

now I am sober the score would seldom be high for more than a day or so. or perhaps not even for more than a few hours. it is highly correlated with the time of the month, the amount of sleep I have had, and whether I have run for at least 3 miles in the preceding 48 hours.

I thought I would write about it here to remind myself of those things. also to try and help me accept that those feelings are, apparently, part of my emotional landscape, and that they will pass. at nearly 4 years sober now I am still just starting to get to know myself – to grow up, at the age of 50. it’s a wonderful thing.

more upbeat programming will resume here as soon as possible! Prim xx

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