Much Horse

Today is my ex-horse’s birthday.

He’s still a horse. I think. He’s just not my horse anymore.

Although technically I wonder about that because he might still officially be on long-term loan, seeing as his new owner never paid me the agreed upon fee following the trial period. Pregnant, weak-spirited and with nowhere to keep a horse, I just let her have a free horse. But maybe she still thinks she’s just borrowing him five years later?

He’s 11 today. Prime of his life. I bet he’s magnificent.

I’ve been thinking about horses a lot lately. I actually dreamt about thinking about buying a horse last night, and I only just remembered. Horses have taken so much of my money over the years, and transformed it into joy and peace and liberation. The presence of a horse-shaped hole in my future bank account seems inevitable, but it’s not quite time just yet.

Manifesting cars

The car I own is a dark grey 2009 Volvo C30 1.6 DRIVe. I don’t know if that’s a confession or a weird flex.

I like cars. I know fuck all about them if we’re being candid, but what I lack in knowledge I make up for in enthusiasm based upon, frankly, arbitrary points of interest.

Part of the reason I know I like cars is that some of them kind of turn me on a bit. Not quite to this extent, I hasten to add. But appealing aesthetics are a…driving factor. If a car catches my eye, I then take it upon myself to research it with a heavy confirmation bias, to find out all the other reasons I like it.

As far as aspirational cars go, a C30 isn’t exactly top of my list these days. When I bought my C30 I was lusting after a Toyota C-HR hybrid. That’s since been replaced in my fantasies by a Polestar 2.

BUT, when the C30 came out, back when I was 16, every time I spotted one it was a cheap thrill. Even now, the lines of that era of Volvo make my pupils dilate. Seeing Robert Pattinson driving my favourite car in Twilight may well have been the spark that ignited a passionate crush I stand by to this day, because Robert Pattinson is spectacular. I’ve written him two fan letters. But I digress.

Edward Cullen’s C30 inspired me to head to the Volvo website to design my own. Colour? No question, dark grey was my favourite colour for anything. Engine? I had no fucking clue of the implications…but I liked the environment so, naturally, I chose the ‘eco’ option – the 1.6 DRIVe. The year was 2009.

Did you ever hear Noel Edmunds going on about cosmic ordering? I did, around about that time. From what I remember it’s a basic Law of Attraction type concept. You just had to make your wish, and wait for it to be granted. There was this website where you could type in your ‘order’, and when you submitted it, it added a virtual star to a virtual sky. I enjoyed that idea. It’s quite likely a C30 made it into my virtual sky, although I can’t corroborate the claim.

When it came to buying a car this time around, I was having difficulty. It had been a minute since I was last in the market, and my affiliation with diesel was now frowned upon. And my budget wasn’t exactly expansive. At first, I’d been excited to buy a sexy high-miles Volvo diesel estate. Which is a preposterous statement if ever I wrote one. But my son’s dad sucked all the fun out of it with his talk of air pollution. So then I looked at all the reasonable petrol alternatives, and none of them aroused me at all. I went round and round in circles trying to land on an acceptable compromise, until I didn’t want a car anymore.

But I needed a car.

I was so tired of car shopping, I wished I could just have a car delivered to my door and not have to think about it anymore. Dejected, I made a deal with the Universe – either deliver me a car that I can be really excited about owning this weekend, or I’ll cave and buy a Honda Jazz or something, just to be done with it.

Enter The C30. The exact car my 19 year old self had ‘ordered’. Low enough emissions that I could live with indulging my guilty diesel pleasure for one last hurrah. Nearly 140,000 miles on the clock so it felt worldly (I’m not kidding that was a selling point for me). Delivered to my fucking door.

Why do I tell this story? Because it emerged into my consciousness as I was taking a walk today. And it was such a peculiar culmination of disparate threads, a bunch of which I haven’t even mentioned, that it invokes a healthy questioning of reality. And I want to make sure I remember it.

Polaris

There’s a man walking around out there in the world who is, to some extent, responsible for all the good things that I am today, who I don’t know, who doesn’t know me, who doesn’t want to know me, and who never really even did anything to deserve the dubious honour of being my greatest teacher and guide.

This is the premise of the post that, when I didn’t write it, made my every other post optional.

My favourite author is Haruki Murakami. One of the things that is notable about Murakami’s stories is that the protagonists are not crazy, but when crazy things happen to them they just go with it. They don’t fight it. They don’t agonise over whether they’re going crazy. And they don’t create a load of drama around it either. They sort of acknowledge their unusual situation with an equanimous shrug, and that’s about the extent of it.

Murakami’s characters always kind of gave me hope that the fact that I was…not crazy, but, also, not quite not crazy either…wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

And then, when crazy things finally started happening to me, that hope probably predisposed me to go with them. Until the reality of the situation I had gone with started dawning on me. Because, actually, it does take a full-blown crazy person to go with it when crazy things start happening. So, upon realising that I was, in fact, a full-blown crazy person, I started thrashing. But it was too late; I had made my decision and gone past the point of no return.

The fine line between genius and insanity has long intrigued me. But, in my life, I have often been just courageous enough to find out how much of a coward I really am, and, instinctively, I feel like courage may in fact, at least in my case, be the line between genius and insanity. Because it takes a little bit of courage to pursue your crazy vision, but it takes a whole heart full of courage to hold true to that vision while simultaneously acknowledging the hostile reality surrounding it. And that’s when, if you choose to continue, it becomes devastatingly easy to buffer yourself with clever distortions. At which point you’re swimming in a choppy sea of half-truths and the shore you were heading for could be over there, or it could be over there, or it could be over there, or it could be over there.

This man, who I don’t know, who doesn’t know me, who doesn’t want to know me, for some reason, became my North Star. Not only did his existence tempt me into an ocean that looked cold and scary and objectively dangerous, with the promise of gold on the other side, but it guided me, from quadrillions of miles away, across that ocean. And the gold I found was not the gold I thought I’d find, because I hadn’t escaped the clever distortions, but it was fucking gold nonetheless.

For some reason that I have yet to comprehend, this man, who I don’t know, who doesn’t know me, who doesn’t want to know me, imbued me with the courage that I never thought I had when I looked at him. By orienting myself toward his light, I completed a years-long journey that I would have otherwise torn myself to shreds on after a couple of days. And, at this point, it’s safe to assume that ‘his light’ was illusory – just another clever distortion of my sea of half-truths – but The Light was really fucking there, because if it hadn’t been there, if it hadn’t been constant, if it hadn’t been the ever-fixĂ©d mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken, then I would have been lost.

This man, who I don’t know, who doesn’t know me, who doesn’t want to know me, allowed me to glimpse True Love. And I feel bad that he had to be the one to do that, because it wasn’t a job he signed up for and I don’t think it came without cost to him. I owe him a deep debt of gratitude. And at the same time, I have to acknowledge the fact that he didn’t have any fucking thing to do with it anyway. He was responsible for his own good grace in the face of my agonised thrashing, and for that there is a separate debt of gratitude. But the deep mystery of what transpired for me; the numinosity of those years of pilgrimage – that is a sacred burden that should never be placed on another human being’s shoulders.

You’ll have to forgive me if this blog post leaves you wondering what the hell this madwoman is rambling on about. This is a long thread to pull.

The Missing Void

I’d make a good monk.

In fact, I often fantasise about a reality in which I ran away to live in solitude and dedicate myself purely to the pursuit of spiritual understanding. Even as a non-religious kid, the idea of becoming a Christian nun was oddly appealing to me.

I’ve spent a reasonable amount of time in acseticism and isolation. Often avoidant asceticism and isolation. I enjoy it, and adapt easily to it. And the idea of the asceticism and isolation being virtuous has enraptured and raised suspicion in me in equal measures over the years. It’s an awfully good excuse to run away from all my irrational fears and places of deepest discomfort…

Right now, however – quite in contrast to my previous post advocating my most extroverted self, and quite in contrast to frustrated desire for new people and conversations and stimuli I’ve been feeling throughout this pandemic – I’m not confused or ambivalent towards the idea of asceticism and isolation. I crave it wholeheartedly. To turn everything off, and sit in fertile silence. More completely than I ever have before.

I’ve let too much of my world become noise, and I want to tune back into meaningful sound – be it bold and brave or light and sweet. But first of all, most of all, I want Nothingness.

A baby, a house, a dog and a Volvo

A comfortable life is not what I’m after.

Maybe I’ll be happy with a baby and a house and a dog and a Volvo.

I wrote that in my journal once.

I will never be happy with a baby, a house, a dog and a Volvo.

It’s not that I don’t want them. The reason the supposition is so tempting is because I really do. In fact, I am working my way through the list – I bought a Volvo a few months ago and every time I look at it I still feel a wave of something somewhere between excitement and satisfaction.

But I’m also the idiot who wanted to live in my rusty Golf with a German Shepherd called Cyril and the soggy footwell that I couldn’t for the life of me find the cause of, and set off into the sunset with no money and no plan.

I don’t fit in the conventional places. I begin to die when confined.

When I wrote that phrase in my journal, I was facing the prospect of conceding my wildest dreams for a conventional, comfortable existence. Settling for a peaceful life. I was trying to convince myself it wouldn’t be so bad.

And I did concede. I sold my soul for the promise of the middle class dream, whatever that is. I thought I could live with it. I don’t know why.

Luckily for me, it was the farthest thing from peaceful I think I’ve ever known. If it hadn’t been I might still be there now, languishing amongst the material, completely deprived of true sustenance.