His description of the moon voyage is technical rather than emotional. As he says, they were trained to get the job done, not have feelings about it. (And with typical modesty he suggests that a poet, musician or journalist should go to the moon so that they can describe it properly for the world.) But it’s interesting nonetheless because of the detail – about the suits, the food, the metallic smell of moon dust, the fact that you can't stop dead when walking on the moon, the dicey machinery. (He had to replace a broken switch with a biro in order to take off from the moon.)
What’s really struck me about his experiences however (and I’m only halfway through the book) is how secret he felt he had to keep his illness and how, once he did come clean and ask for help, his career in the Air Force was finished.
Aren’t we all sick, to a greater or lesser degree? Health is a process, a process of experimentation and of adjustment to changing circumstances. You can always have more. And I think it was Jung who said that his patients never actually recovered. They just learnt to live with their condition and moved on.
This morning at breakfast, I was trying to explain to Frog my current mental battles. (Breakfast is a good time to catch him. He’s half asleep and not distracted by all the things that usually distract him, like music, radio, practical tasks, television, books.) I was talking about the way I go into inspiration overload, how I seem to have to work myself into a frenzy in order to write, about how unpleasant that is, and about how unpleasant the comedown is (exhaustion, depression, migraine).
‘Ah,’ he said, ‘Writing binges.’
Wow, I thought. He was listening, and he’s encapsulated in two words everything I was trying to say. And, having been in the doldrums since Wednesday (‘I'm bereft of inspiration. I shall never write again’), I thought ‘blog post’.
Whenever we have a strong wind our broadband disconnects. I reconnect it by clicking on a button labelled ‘connect’ on my computer. I find that incomprehensible. How can something physical – the effect of wind – be remedied by something virtual? Don’t I have to climb on to the roof and fiddle with wires?
As I reconnected this morning, I thought - if only I could do the same with my brain. Why can’t I switch on the inspiration when I want to write and switch it off when I want to relax? Why does it all have to be so painful?Perhaps it doesn't. It's not as if I've been to the moon or anything.