Slow Suicide in the Grown-Up World

Dark December mornings were made for three things: writing, reading, coffee and candles.

Okay, Dark December mornings were made for four things: writing, reading, coffee, candles and cake.

Okay five things.

Where’s Monty Python’s Spanish Inquisition when you need them?

Here’s a post by author Chris Nicholas that got me thinking.

We hurt when we bury our passions. We are in pain when we let bills, Outlook, mortgages, spreadsheets sneak up on our lives and wrap their little tentacles around everything we love. Because who are we kidding, if someone wants a career and not just a job, there’s no such thing as real time off. There’s this nagging feeling, when we’re out in the woods walking the dog, or sunning ourselves in lovely Parisian squares, that we really should be at home working because there’s still so much to do.

As Mark Steel says in A Stand-Up History of the French Revolution, at least in the pre-corporate world no one expected you to carry your loom home with you or go down pit for a few hours on Sunday. (Read it by the way, it’s hilarious. Gave me all my passion for my subject back when my first year of my Ph.D. sucked it out of me.)

Between the ages of 15 and 17, I was at my most passionate. I knew exactly what I wanted and I was brave enough to stand up and shout it to the world. The only thing I needed was a plan.

Because with typical teenage arrogance, I believed that I would be instantly recognised for my talents. One book would do it, I’d be off, I’d be famous and I could do nothing but write for the rest of my life. Despite all those well-meaning people (aka my mother) trying to tell me that it doesn’t work that way, I didn’t listen. Because I couldn’t relate.

I thought being grown-up meant getting to do what I wanted to do. Freedom. Freedom to stay up till 3 a.m. because I just had to finish writing this passionate scene. Freedom to spend the weekend locked up with a book and not have to worry about homework. Freedom to wander the streets for hours, lost in old buildings and the plots that were working themselves out in my head.

And yes, it is all of those things.

But just coupled with the nagging feeling that I have un-read emails, a project behind schedule, an angry customer and just maybe my time could be employed better behind my computer.

I’m saying this now, even though for the first time in years I love my job.

A few months ago I had some old friends round for dinner. One of them asked if we actually felt like grown-ups. And none of us did. Yet we’re all late-thirties, responsible breadwinners with children and mortgages. I thought a lot about it. Of course we are grown-ups. I just don’t think any of us expected being grown-up to be quite like this.

Now it’s time for work, so I will have to write the rest of this later.

I do have a point.

Promise.

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