I thought the most challenging thing about living alone after ten years of company would be cooking just enough: avoiding the pitfall of grabbing food on the fly because nobody will notice if you aren’t eating properly; and trying not to feed the five thousand every meal time. In short, I was most worried about portion control.
I need not have worried. Yes, I’ve eaten more scrambled eggs than you can shake a stick at, and yes, I’ve eaten, in the most undignified fashion, with a spatula, but at no point has my diet been a real cause for concern (except maybe the fact that when I get home now, I automatically reach for the drinks cupboard). In fact, being the only judge of my output from the kitchen has been liberating and not a little amusing.
Yet this idea of portion control cuts much deeper. Being in sole charge of a large part of my day is an enormous responsibility. The possibilities are endless, but with infinite choice comes an unexpected impotence. Rationing the amount of sleep, of exercise, of cleaning, of entertainment and of contact with the outside world is not a job to be taken on lightly.
I remember that at art school, one of the lessons we students learned very quickly was that constraints demanded creativity – it was more natural and instinctive to react, respond and invent within a tightly controlled framework than it was even to decide what to work on during our free studio time. I wonder if the same isn’t true of life: that commitments demand productivity?
Of course, it’s entirely possible that in the face of freedom of choice and total agency, I’ve fabricated a need for a ‘framework for life’, but that’s another post…