Too Late and Too Far To Go Back
One week ago I left London after living there two-and-a-half years. Now I’m in Madrid for the next four weeks. Then Athens. Then [hopefully] I’ll make it to a conference in Nashville. After that? Not a clue. Last Friday I also left my job of nine years. So now I’m jobless. And homeless.
But it was my decision, and there are definitely worse places to be! Madrid is warm, but not too warm. Breezy. The people are friendly. And my flat has air conditioning, something homes in London never have. I’m pretty much in heaven after the humid hell that’s been London the last few weeks.
Why am I doing all this? Why did I leave London? I told most people it’s because I want to write a book and need time and space to do it. With others I added in how my visa was tied to my job, which meant I had to go somewhere else, so why not travel! And with a few I mentioned that I wanted to reevaluate my work and future.
All of that is true! But if I drill down into my reasons just a bit deeper, it’s not only because of a book. Or because my job doesn’t fit anymore. What I really want to do is find out what I’m made of. Can I write something worthwhile that’s longer than a few paragraphs? Do I have the discipline? And can I find a job that satisfies as well as challenges me? Where I’m not just skimming the surface of what I can do?
I think what this next season is about, really, is to find out if and how I can become a better…well…me.
“We changed again, and yet again…”
But what does becoming a better version of oneself look like? Is there one perfect end result, or are there multiple possible versions of “the best” Jason? Do I even want to look like any of those Jasons? One concern of mine is whether I can be happy with…proud of…a version that doesn’t have the characteristics I’ve always thought I wanted to possess.
So I probably need to be careful of the whole “what am I made of” goal. Or reframe how I consider it. I naturally think that being made of one material must be better than being made of another. Steel is stronger than wood, right? And a feather isn’t much use to anyone. So metal must be better. The same obviously goes for skills and gifts, or so I’ve always thought. That man’s gifts are better than mine. That’s woman’s discipline makes her more worthy.
But that’s simply and dangerously shortsighted. The desire to become a better version of myself is good, but to strive to be like someone else with different gifts will simply make me a paler version of that person, not a truer version of me. Steel can hold up a skyscraper, but it can’t grow and bend like a tree. And neither one can soar with the grace and ease of a hawk in flight. Each is uniquely beautiful and useful and worthy.
So I guess that’s it. My goal in Madrid and Athens…and everywhere after…is to test my wings. Or tensile strength. Or branches. To explore. Do my best. Right now, I want to see if I have what it takes to be a writer of novels. I might. But if I don’t or decide I don’t want to, then I’ll just keep exploring and do my best not to compare myself to others who are differently gifted.
“…and the world lay spread before me.”
Years ago I kept a blog and built up a few entries, but those have since disappeared into the internet ether. So I’ve started again with the intent to keep a journal of my travels and experiences.
When I write I learn more about myself and what I think, so that’s one reason why I’m doing this. Another is to start putting words on paper every day, to build my writing muscles. Same as going to a gym. Right now I’m the equivalent of a 98-pound weakling. (I flinch every time other writers come around, afraid they’re going to kick apostrophes and semicolons in my face.) And third, I want to share my journeys with you. I hope you don’t mind everything that comes with it!
I recently finished a fun fiction novel called The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep, and near the end the author, H.G. Parry, quotes a line out of Dicken’s Great Expectations: “We changed again, and yet again, and it was now too late and too far to go back, and I went on. And the mists had all solemnly risen now, and the world lay spread before me.”
That sounds so very solemn. And serious. And perhaps it is. But I see hope in there, too. Change can be scary, but look…
the mists are rising.