Instead of writing about things that bother me that maybe-definitely shouldn’t bother me, things like Justin Bieber getting bad press or bankers getting gazillion dollar bonuses for overspending other peoples money or politicians lying or Kim Kar-whatever-ian taking another naked-selfie, from now on I’m going to write about things that really matter to me, like my thoughts and fears and wants and ambitions and dreams - yeah, my wholly wild and probably impossible dreams.
Why? Well I’m hoping it will help me make sense of everything. I’m hoping it will help me make sense of this weird and unforgiving place we call life.
I guess what has set me off on this path is adulthood. Responsible adulthood. Boring, dull and colourless adulthood.
To bring you up to speed, I’ve spent everyday of 2016 convincing myself that I want to get my finances straight and get a steady job that offers a bright future and a company car and fantastic remuneration package. I want to get Phoebe into a great school and get a mortgage and a white-picket fence. Basically, I’ve convinced myself I want all those things an ill-informed and bland society would tell me I should aim for.
So, yeah, I’ve been on the job hunt, which has meant sending out an endless stream of CVs to recruiters across the country then planting trees on my day off to counteract the mass levels of deforestation I’ve caused by sending out an endless stream of CVs to recruiters across the country. Don’t ask.
Anyway, I’ve been offered two jobs:
Trainee Branch Manager For The UKs Biggest Estate Agency
Sales Consultant For The UKs Fastest Growing Software Company
It is the proudest I’ve seen my parents in a long time. To them, I may actually be about to get a “real” job.
But now I’m faced with two real options - both of which hold the potential to change everything about my family’s life immeasurably - I feel like I’m suffocating. I feel like I’m struggling under the weight of my own surrender, choking on my own white flag. This choice of jobs has made life more petrifying than it ever has been, and the thought of being sat at the same computer repeating the same clueless script to the same client at the other end of the same headpiece for the next 30 years is triggering my depression, and I’m not sure I’ve got what it takes to defeat depression again.
Yes, these jobs offer money - good money - and the chance to progress up the chain of command and maybe one day be of a managerial status.
But this can’t be what life is all about, can it? I mean this isn’t the sort of life Hemingway wrote about, or the sort of existence that inspired Mark Twain’s stories, so why am I even considering it.
You know me; I’m an old romantic with decades worth of idiosyncrasies and completely unreasonable and unattainable ideas about what I want my life to consist of. Basically, I want a life that’s worth living. I want a life that people will one day read about. I want to do something insane. I want to buy a dilapidated chateau in rural France or restore a villa in Northern Italy or purchase a near-derelict hotel in Cuba or Bali, or somewhere else irrationally hot. I want to take a risk with my life and not ponder what it must be like to take risks. I want to risk starting a family business so that I can actually be with my family. I want to do a cooking course. I want to run a scuba diving centre. I want to sell Cuban food out of a van on a beach somewhere or dish out noodles on a mountain peak. Something small, but something I can do with my girls.
I want to be somewhere that makes my family smile and laugh and understand what life should be about instead of giving into the sad capitalist views of the west where people spend their lives accumulating vast amounts of money and then worrying about their money and then dying and having to pay their money to the taxman.
No, I want to come up with a suitably ludicrous and yet strangely attainable plan. I want to merge my family’s madcap ideas and make one magical experience, one magical life. I want to have a cake-shop-slash-B&B-slash-restaurant-slash-crèche-slash-home.
But people tell me that’s stupid or foolish or impossible, probably because society has told them that’s stupid or foolish or impossible and now they’ve taken it as their prerogative to preach the same ignorance without ever bothering to go on their own mad little adventure to find their own mad little utopia.
Yes money is important, but it’s not everything. Family is everything, and I want to see my daughter grow up. I want to make her smile and see her dance. I want to teach her that life should be about living, be about taking risks, fighting for what she believes in, struggling for what she wants, enjoying the pain that comes with chasing her dreams. That’s why I don’t want to give in or give up or take a job-slash-life that doesn’t excite me. It’s all for her. It’s all for both my girls. I don’t want them to do anything less than something incredible with their lives.
Yes, I’m an absolutely senseless and irrational dreamer, but at least I have dreams, dreams worth fighting for and reasons worth listening to. Now I want to do something mad and insane and if I fail then whoop-di-do I’ve failed, but at least I would have tried, I would have taken the risks and felt the emotions and done something worthwhile with my dwindling time on this planet. That’s who I am. That’s who I want to be.
But right now I feel a million miles from all that. I’m about to do something I’m not excited about doing and I can’t understand why. I mean I understand why; my little girl, but I want her to grow up and tell people I’m a living adventure, not a sales consultant. I guess that’s why I feel like I’m on the verge of giving up all the best things in my life for all the worst reasons.
I feel like I’m looking at a post-apocalyptic world where crumbling skyscrapers poke out of a scorched earth as ash clouds turn everything black and vultures pick at whatever little bits they can.
That’s not how a future should look. A future should look like Mardi Gras or some carnival in Rio where no one is wearing anything except silver and gold thongs made out of peacock feathers and coconut shells. Life should be full of colour and paint and nerves and laughter and fun and adventure.
I know taking one of these jobs isn’t forever, it isn’t the end of the world, it’s a means to establish security and stability, but they are two of the most boring words in the entire English language. I remember when dad was in politics. I was only a kid but I had to dress in suits and attend functions and behave appropriately. It was a bizarre bubble of formalities that gave me anything I could ever want and yet took away everything a kid needs - freedom. Then dad lost the election and we spent weekends fishing in lakes and rivers because he couldn’t afford to buy food. No points for guessing which adventure I preferred. They are the same adventures I want in my life; not first-world problems and pseudo-worries.
Look, I don’t know whether this this makes sense or whether it is a labyrinth of words that eradicates logic. Maybe this whole thing is nonsensical and tomorrow I’ll wake up brainwashed by some mundane capitalist ideology, chuckling with embarrassment as I read this back only to quietly tut at myself as I peruse silk ties on some overpriced website suddenly convinced that’s what life is all about; silk ties and shiny shoes. I hope not though.
Whatever the case, we’ll figure it out. We’ll figure it out as a family, a mad little family.