It takes no time at all for what is made simple to become so deeply complex. We stand back and admire the empty space we have created, congratulating ourselves on the effort taken to exist in a beautiful vacuum and all of a sudden we are back to where we started. Begging for More. Now. Again. Disparaging what clarity there may be in simplicity and filling silence with aesthetic noise and crazy-making systems.
I feel a little bit off my trolley today. Wiped out by a list of must-be-done’s I don’t-want-to-do and staring at a desk piled high with paper, and printed courses and letters to be answered and a gift to be sent and oh so much mess. And that is even before I have invited you inside my head.
Though I seem to be stood in the midst of whirling chaos, the truth is that the older I get, the less I want for. My heart no longer aches for the high of finding buried treasure, for professional glory, or wild nights on the town. I am older now and this middle age feels oddly welcome: as if I have been expecting her, impatient for the peace I knew she would bring. Not knowing though, that with peace comes a kind of intolerance, determined to sort the wheat out from the chaff and reduce life to its most essential. To force me to acknowledge out loud what it is I most treasure.
I lay in bed this morning and realised that what I wanted most in the world was to write in the day and read in the night. No more and no less. I do not want to be fathoming the complexities of GPDR or re-arranging the tchotches I have long decorated my life with daily. What once was simple online is now a competitive sport. Communities dissolved by those who splinter off and replicate what once was yours accompanied by the relentless drive to be bigger and better and less honest than before.
This then is a sort of existential crisis. (Possibly peculiar only to me: for how are we to know who truly shares our deepest feelings?). A space in time I find myself staring at what I have strove to create. To own. To be. A sense that it is all jewellery, decorating the stark truth of what really matters. A realisation that this jewellery is not authenticity, but in fact a glittery disguise I wear as worry that I am not enough. That my message is not enough, but must instead be wrapped in a bundle and sold in a course instead of the simple offering of daily words that it once was.
I understand now why the houses of the oldest generations among us are so bare. How life comes down to a chair we can rise from without a struggle and the same basic lunch daily. I understand why our old people yearn for their family. Why they repeat so very often the truth they have decided matters most of all. Their individual message unadorned by the kind of opinion that cripples those of us still young.
I want to write all day.
To offer those words in a simple book you can take or leave. I want to feel not the buzz of the launch but the gentle hum of sharing what matters to me. I want to feel the freedom of only being required to type words on to the virtual page and not have to worry about how to sell them to those who neither want nor need to read them. I want to write all day and read all night. Not for me, anymore the endurance test that is any old TV box set, watched simply for the sake of it. But perhaps an occasional, perfect film when my eyes are tired. When there is a gap between one bookish world and another.
A few weeks ago, Finley said “I will be gone in a few years, Mum. Do you think you have made the most of me?”.
And I couldn’t answer him honestly. I have been so busy with such a lot of busywork and the need to know more. I have been battered by blows that have sometimes compromised my own parenting ideals, and have to agree when he says that his friends do not understand our world. That even Stevie must find it strange. For a Mother to be so endlessly possessed by her work. To be always, always bent over her computer, brow furrowed with creative dis-satisfaction. For her work to be her, her bottom the shape of the chair she barely leaves because there is always so much to do.
Life is more complex than it needs to be. Than this new, older me can tolerate. There is a sense of what is it for. A sudden rush through time, towards the day Finley is leaving home and the book I so desperately want to publish is still but an idea. I can hardly bear it.
So at the end of this existential rainbow is a simple truth. I want to write all day and read all night. To cook for my boys and sleep, satisfied, peaceful, calm when the sun goes down. Without angst or warped ambition. To write and to read. To keep the surfaces of my life and head clear and to refine my message until those who need to hear it, cannot help but happen across it.
Change is coming. I can feel it in my weary bones.