There are times in one’s life when one is caught not between a rock and hard place, nor even between two armchairs, but in that overlapping middle space, one of the interstitial moments that life pops up for you every now and again.
Before you are two, three, sometimes more paths, none of which seem to hold greater promise than the others. The usual pros and cons method leads nowhere. Add to this the fact that each path is dependent on an exterior factor, and the real difficulty becomes clear: how to prepare for three directions at once.
It’s easy, surely? One draws a natty venn diagram, looks to what falls between the three stools, and prepare for that. Would that it were. I suppose that intellectually this is possible, and emotionally it is desirable. But can I do it?
This particular quandary, the quandary over which I have little, if any, control, just happens to have coincided with a great ennui. I seem to be floating through the days, not doing anything particularly but certainly not doing nothing. A sort of intellectual and emotional cruise control. Producing anything meaningful that isn’t actually necessary seems strangely impossible. Indeed, I’m struggling to write this piece.
Furthermore, those few times which see some manner of productivity invariably disappoint. My recent blog for the Guardian’s Mind Your Language, for example, was rather disappointing. It was a nice little piece, I thought – nothing mind-blowing, but a piece which I hoped might stimulate some gentle debate. But no. A couple of characters who felt that one word was all they needed to read, one blog post which latched onto one particular point and tried to shake it to death like a dog with a rabbit (read the thread, there’s some good, old-fashioned debate going on), but perhaps missed the general point.
I mostly wrote it in a pub in Norwich, taking up residence for two afternoons in the same annex, on the same sofa, first rattling it off and then gently massaging it until it fitted nicely. I talked about relationship protocols, 80s synths and Fat Boy Slim with a fellow imbiber. I was mildly propositioned, and ate some good pie. And chocolate eggs. When leaving Norwich the next day, I ended up talking to the passenger of the car to my right … he had also been in the pub the previous day. A talker, and no mistake.
I drove home. I broke down. I was towed to a service station in Brentford that seemed not only to be a hub for various amounts of nefariousness, but also boasted its own japanese restaurant. I got home late.
The world has been rather skewed ever since.
And yet I cannot seem to put pen to paper.
Or decide what to do. Why? Because other people are about to make decisions which will radically change my world … if they don’t simply leave it open.