Pulling the thread

I went to a silent art auction last night at a local university, amidst a raging British storm. That is, a fairly-mild-by-all-accounts-but-exciting-to-us-folk-who-don’t-experience-real-storms storm. My friend had submitted a piece and so we turned up to represent. It was unexpectedly packed to the brim with art students. Not that we had any idea what to expect, but it was bustling. Decidedly COVID-unsafe. And we were most definitely outsiders, but I doubt anyone was paying attention.

We made a circuit of the corridor where the pieces were displayed. My friends made a few bids. I did not. And then, as we were nearing the end of our lap, a man walked in. Floppy hair, undercut, self-effacing demeanour – yeah I’m into it. Our lap took us past him and, after a couple of mutual glances, I suspected he was into it too. He changed his trajectory to hover near me. Fucking palpable. The thing is, I am alarmingly age-blind, and I thought it best to make the assumption that he was, in fact, undergraduate age. So, when somebody wanted to get past me, I took the oportunity to spook, and headed back to the safety of my group. We continued to orbit each other loosely. A few more demure glances. Indecision. And then my friend made the let’s leave gesture, and we were gone.

I now regret this. I feel I have unfinished business. The tension remains unresolved. My mind is looking for ways to resolve it. I want to find out what I was into. Because, the truth is, I’m not often into it these days. I wish I had pulled the thread with a spirit of curiosity. Who is he? What could I have learned? Where could it have taken me? How long is the thread?

I think part of the problem is that I am many-times-burned by this inexplicable pull towards people. I don’t trust myself to handle it with grace. I love it in theory, but in practice it feels dangerous. But that was a past self, who consistently misinterpreted and overblew the pull. I have a much healthier conception of attraction at this point. I need to figure out how to exercise it because, as it is, I’m cutting off a really delightful part of life. Pulling the thread would be so much more fun than ignoring it.

In an ideal world

I’m laughing at myself a little bit because I just read the first lines of my last post and realised that, even in my correction, I still only went as far as saying in an ideal world I could create the school that I want to send my son to; not that it already exists. But I guess that sounds about right. I don’t know whether it’s flagging control issues, ego or just not wanting to be left out, but it sounds about right.

As exciting as it would be, though, I am too perpetually exhausted to be doing a good job of a project that big. Oh. but wait, in an ideal world, I get a solid eight hours. I keep forgetting the brief. Still, we can take it further, and we should. That’s how we get to the heart of things – by pushing past the edges.

In an ideal world, everything we have collectively learned over our time on this Earth would be harnessed to tailor education to each of our children’s individual needs and potentials, and as parents we would be actively involved in this ever unfolding process, because the value of raising children would be elevated above what we currently consider productivity. Is that better?

It’s useful to think about what we want. What we really want. You know, outside of our self-imposed limitations. Outside of what we’ve learned to accept is possible. If we could have anything, what would it be? If you’re anything like me, you’ll have to push yourself beyond your first few answers before you get to the truth. Before you even get close to scratching the itch of your deepest ambitions. Or even begin to perceive the full extent of your vision.

In an ideal world…

It’s a good prompt.

Troubleshooting

Where does your joy take you?

Like most of us, I imagine, I’ve spent a lot of my life learning from pain. At times, from exquisite, searing, unbearable pain. I was rewarded for that, it felt like, with the reprieve of spending the last few years exploring and uncovering things that actually feel good to me instead.

But, see, as we discovered yesterday, I’ve been keeping a secret. That secret being that I still believe the thing I’m not supposed to believe.

And the better things feel, the closer I get to that thing I believe that I’m not supposed to believe. Because that thing literally unlocked ecstasy for me. That thing is the source of All Good Things for me. But it’s not supposed to be.

My joy takes me somewhere I’m not supposed to go. Just like my certainty takes me somewhere I’m not supposed to go. So I simply do not let myself go all the way there.

For the past few years, I’ve been free of almost all the pain tied up in my joy, and I’ve even had ecstasy just a well-placed thought away. There should have been nothing stopping me. And yet I’ve refrained. I’ve declined bliss. I’ve passed on exaltation. Not completely, by any stretch of the imagination. But I’ve been, how you say, edging. I never go all the way. I stop short.

Do you think that’s why, for the past three years, if I get sufficiently sexually aroused, I sneeze? Because I’ve been trying to figure that shit out for ages.

Rust bucket

When I sold my old Golf to a breaker for fifty quid, we met at a junction in the middle of nowhere, and he drove it away illegally through the narrow Welsh backroads. It all felt terribly sudden.

I got a message half an hour later saying ‘I have no idea why but I absolutely love driving this car’. That car had a lot of fucking problems, and it was also my favourite place to be, so my heart soared at seeing him share this. My Golf was instilled with hours of carefree meandering over winding mountain roads, windows down, singing along to Jason Mraz. It was nights parked up in the Brecon Beacons, backseats down, halfway home from a gig in Cardiff. It was the illusion of power and competence I felt when changing gears, accelerating out of a bend, or reversing a whole mile down a country lane. And it was also the nagging worry of everything wrong with it that I couldn’t afford to fix. And all the really stupid low-speed collisions with inanimate objects. And the bad judgement calls that got me stuck in ditches for no good reason whatsoever.

It was an extension of me. It was tied to my identity. And it was also unfortunately tied to my self-worth, which was why I ended up selling it to a breaker for fifty quid. I have no doubt that, despite being such a joy to drive, my old Golf still got ripped apart. It could have had a better ending than that. The breaker himself admitted he was surprised I accepted his offer. But I couldn’t see it at the time. So instead of advocating for it, I folded.

There are too many times in my life, looking back, that I folded. Because I couldn’t see the value of what I brought to the table.

Samhain

Do we think The Veil is thinner today?

I enjoy the cycles and rituals of nature-based religions. There is something very soothing to the human about indulging in the undulating rhythm of the seasons. The constant ebb and flow, from full to new, to full, to new, to full, to new, to full, to new. The gradual rotation of the axes of our year, from extremity of light or dark to equality and back again. A time for everything. Everything in good time. A safe and meaningful passage through the ages.

I struggle, however, to keep up. I get distracted by the trappings of modern existence. The grocery shopping. The school run. The job interview. The laundry basket. The time spent driving from task to task. The effort spent driving myself through each task. The sense I need to be more productive. The chronic strain of having my worth as a human externally judged by my financial buoyancy. Buoyancy is just how hard you push down on what’s beneath you.

I need a thinner veil. Because I am feeling disconnected. I am a little too far removed from what is real, and a little too far enmeshed in our comfortable collective delusion. I liked the idea, for a while, of chasing money. Chasing status. I liked the idea of the relief it would bring me. The world would consider me successful, and I could stop worrying it considers me a failure. The World. The World we have constructed. The Artifice upon which we teeter.

I don’t mind The Artifice. It’s useful in a lot of ways. It’s broken, sure, but it can be fixed. I just can’t live in it completely for very long before I start to feel ungrounded, and I need to reach back through to the other side. But the longer you stay away, the harder it is to feel your way back. So I probably need a ritual, and a night when The Veil is thin.