Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is
It's that time of the year, month, week, day where my thoughts turn inexorably to what I haven't achieved yet and what to turn my energies to next. But I'm stuck (and not in a kind of positive Billy Childish career as a media whore for the rest of my days kind of a way). It's good to keep a journal and - sometimes, under strict supervision - it's good to reread and remind myself of my previous goals. So it was that I realised that five years ago I wanted to have a home, a relationship, a Masters, a pension and a career...oh, and have written a book. Five out of six isn't bad going is it?
I blame the glossies. TA and I went to A Taste of London on Saturday. And mainly London tasted "yum" with a side helping "oh. my. god." and an amuse bouche of Michel Roux Jr who is simply fabuloso. (Mummy, when I grow up I want to marry...oh, wait, crap.) But I digress, I picked up three magazines that were being given away free: the Evening Standard mag (which always makes me grind my teeth), Delicious. and some kind of Homes and Gardens-type effort - ah! - Living etc. When we returned home TA settled in for an evening of online merriment, courtesy of Neverwinter Nights, while I devoured the pulp (I hope no trees were harmed in the making of this drivel).
Somehow the editors of all three (food-themed) mags had conspired to feature profiles of the kinds of couples that make me want to weep, wail, gnash my teeth and take a chainsaw to myself, my life and any innocent bystanders who happen to get in my way. Are you familiar with the genre? Good-looking exhibit 'A' followed a bohemian path, never quite settling in to normal life (was raised by rock gods/ artists/ gypsies/ drug-addled aristocracy [delete as appropriate]); travelled the world, fell in with others of a similar ilk; started an innocent cottage industry/ decorated a friend's palace/ started singing in a bar/ opened a cafe; met exhibit 'B' (a record producer/ artist/ photographer/ sculptor/ mountain climber); they moved to the country/ an abandoned warehouse/ an island/ a yurt; and live a delightfully poised, perfect existence where they both awake each day with vim, vigour and beautiful offspring gambolling through organic meadows of bliss; they work long hours but it's not work really when you follow your dreams is it and anyway there are always so many different projects on the go. The fuckers, seriously, where do these people come from?
And why aren't we these people too? And perhaps we could be - TA could be an amazing digital artist, game developer and RPG guru, if only somebody would give him a chance; I could be a great novelist/academic/organic farmer or perhaps entrepreneur, if only I'd give myself the chance.
Is it bravery? Self-belief? An inability to accept compromise?
So I need new dreams, bigger dreams - I need to raise the bar and start my run up. Because I've got a stunning record of achieving what I set my mind to - and a less than glorious record of landing, having cleared the bar with elan, only to look around and think well, this really isn't enough is it? Witness: the lovely flat, husband, good job (as these things go), approaching financial stability.
I work with a woman I really like - she's ten years older, husband is an artist/drugs therapist, they have a three-year-old daughter, live a comfortable life in a great apartment in Camden. What we've got, but better. And she's desperate: her job doesn't feel rewarding, she wonders where her life is going, she's dying a slow death day by day. We walk around Covent Garden at lunch time and I think I don't want to be feeling this way in ten years time - I don't want the same thing as I have now done better, with nicer clothes and more expensive comforts. The only real difference being I'm dragging a child through with me (a consolation and a burden both).
I want to taste life with every breath. I want to jump out of bed in the morning knowing that in the next eighteen hours I'm going to work my socks off doing something amazing, create something - anything, no matter how tenuous - that has real meaning to me. I want to feel alive.
And TA asks, but WHAT? What is it that you want to do? And I just don't know. I'm stuck, stuck, stuck and not in a manifesto-writing, record recording, paint the town kind of a way. No, I'm stuck in the kind of way that sends me to the cupboards searching for an answer at the bottom of a packet of biscuits, the gold at the end of a tub of ice cream, the wisdom that can only be seen through the green glass of an empty bottle of el plonko. I'm stuck in the way that my journal reads like Groundhog Day. I can't seem to break the cycle. Have I really been like this all my adult life? Am I really this dull and predictable?
It's time to resort to drugs. And more singing out loud. And dancing. And writing and doing more of the things that make my heart sing. Because it's not rocket science is it? And perhaps I'll winnow out some truth, some focus. Perhaps I'll be featured in a dreadful glossy in a few years and my story will have been painted in such broad strokes that it will attain the slick look of inevitability. And somewhere, someone will read it and spit blood, but we'll know the truth. You'll have seen the callouses and - no doubt - somewhere I'll be writing about how dissastisfied I am with life and wondering what hoop to jump through next. Or maybe that's what the Prozac will stop?