I spend a lot of time in the early hours of the morning worrying about what ‘it’ all means and by ‘it’ I mean life, the universe and everything, so not all that much of importance, really. It’s not that I have a huge sense of ego regarding my role in the world – I know I am a mere transient speck – but I find it so hard to let go of my need for a sense of narrative. I expect there to be some sort of underlying structure, or purpose, or meaning to life and yet the more I look for it, the more random it all appears to be.
I know many people enjoy the roller-coaster ride (Parenthood is a really under-rated movie) but I am always the person who wants to cheat and therefore skips to the end. Like Harry (When Harry Met Sally), I have always snuck a look at the last page of my book once I get to about two paragraphs into chapter one, page one. I always have sneaky checks on Wikipedia when watching an American TV show so I know what is coming up. I try to think ahead on all the angles, arguably I over-think them. In real life you apparently can’t really do that.
Or at least you cannot plan and control and read ahead and also enjoy a full, spontaneous life. Without spontaneity and good coping mechanisms it all becomes very stale very quickly. You also find that the new, unexpected or just out of your comfort zone experiences can become really difficult.
One of the issues I have at the moment is that I have boxed myself into a corner; I am now living a very small life. It’s not a bad life – having left behind a job I hated to spend my days reading and seeing friends is in many ways an idyll – but it’s safe. You could argue it’s too safe. Nothing much can get to me here, or hurt me, or change me, or surprise me, or, well, anything. I have retired myself and I am arguably a bit too young to have done that.
In a world that is so full of opportunities and the promise of experiences and life-changing moments it feels a bit over-whelming knowing exactly what to do to find a way out of my corner. Whilst I really wish I had remembered to leave a trail of breadcrumbs to help me find my way back to civilisation, I did intentionally remove certain bridges and others were either taken from me or never open to me in the first place. Which, to continue with the clumsy extended metaphor, leaves me here, on my little island and wondering which rafts I should try out. I don’t want to risk another tap dancing moment of bravery which is a bit too far but at the same time I know I need to try some things before I loose what little nerve I have left.
You see, one of the things I have come to acknowledge as being inescapably true, is whilst I still have to believe that we can make a happy and fulfilling life without a significant other, we do need other people in our lives. We need to connect. We also need to have things to do with our time that give our lives a sense of purpose and structure. For most people there is a partner and a job so these things are on some level covered, at least until they have time out – for example to have a baby or retirement – which means they are too distracted or busy to look at these things. So far I have been busy in my state of wilful employment but these daily distractions don’t stop the over-thinking at 2am.