Last night was one of those rare domestic bliss evenings. Just like we used to do, all four of us – Mum, Dad, my brother and me – made pizzas and watched a film. It was one of those evenings of simplicity which can only really occur in the intimate family setting.
I refused to entertain any talk of job opportunities or business, beyond confirming that I have arranged for a final discussion at the agency “pending an offer” on Wednesday. This does mean cutting my trip home shorter than I would have liked, but I suppose that cannot be helped. But for that evening, I wouldn’t enter into any discussions about it, not about courses, preparations or any of the other problems which I have mercifully left in London for now.
I had the most wonderful time and I am very glad of it.
And yet, I am very aware that this trip has simply put many of the issues in my mind on hiatus, not solved them. Don’t get me wrong, it is a merciful and much-needed hiatus and I am very glad to be on it. But I am aware that it is only a temporary solution at best.
And it also brings home to me, as trips home so often do, that beyond the nostalgia and the beauty of the countryside – beyond the peace and relative domestic bliss – I do not belong in a sleepy village in the midst of the Scottish countryside. The issue now is that I also debate whether I belong in the challenge and bustle of mighty London. I do not know. More and more recently, I feel that I do not know myself, nor what I really want.
I am only happy when reading – when escaping into the worlds of novels.
Will I be taking this next job and opportunity because it is what I want, or because I feel that I am expected to?
Do I still relish the challenge of working and making myself heard? I’m not sure that I do.
More and more I find that I look at the worlds of digital media as needless and silly frivolities. That I really have little love and littler interest in them. But when I try to cast my mind around for an alternative, I find that I am stuck. There is a void in my mind and I do not know how to fill it.
The only thing I can really do with any certainty of worthwhileness is writing. Or at least, I think I can. Despite what my former boss may have said on more than one occasion.
Yet to hope for a career at home sitting writing novels is a waste of one’s imagination. Even relatively “successful” novelists often cannot afford to live by their pen alone, or at least not in the sense of simply penning stories. Yet to have a “career” in London seems to be paramount to having nothing else. Especially in the world of the creative agency, it is fully expected and explicitly stated that it is supposed to consume you; that large swathes of one’s free time will be taken up with the work. In return, you are on the fast-track to wealth and success…so that work can command even more of your free time.
It reminds me of a story my friend Marina told me recently, about one of the senior bosses in her company. Despite having a husband and two younf children, she rises every morning at 4am to exercise. Then she begins working from 6 and keeps going – taking calls and emails and meetings until 10pm. Then she goes straight to bed and starts the whole thing over again. I said to Marina that she can hardly be surprised if in 10 years she find out that her husband has taken a mistress or that she realises she doesn’t know her own children. And what has she acieved instead? Given the best years of her life to a company that, honestly, doesn’t care about her and never will.
At the end, what’s left?
I used to think that the adorementioned existence was what I wanted. I wanted to be obsessed with my work; to be consumed by it and live for it. To make myself a major success. I stil want to be successful, but I want to achieve it with balance.
Although truth be told, a part of me loves not working. Perhaps I really am the lazy person I always dreaded I was. One who wishes to just amuse themselves with a life of leasure. Ah, what bliss. I almost feel bad for admitting it but it’s true. If there was an existence where I had my time wholly to myself, I really think I would take it. To simply read and write and paint.
Reality, of course, is far harsher. But perhaps if I can finish this story and see if I can get it published..I dare not hope for anything beyond that. But right now my wellspring of hope has rather run dry. I find that in my read rages a storm, a storm of uncertainty I used to feel as a teenager. Unsure of who I am or what I want. Unsure, even, of what it is I am supposed to want.
I suppose part of it is the juxstaposition; the homely bliss without contrasting the silent tempest within. But please, let the answers come to me soon.