… they wish to force a new
path through matter, reform the world
to their understanding, but every path
they make forks and the forks divide
and they are lost and obsessed turning
every turning into a new dogma,
a subset of the theory, so that the one
shining truth is obscured in layers
of exception and infringement regulations
and they cling together as an ark on the
flooded surface, they quarrel and consume
and emit waste.
~ Sophia Wellbeloved, extract from ‘Twisting from within …’, in Praying for Flow (Waterloo Press, 2011)
Last October, I was sure of moving after Berlin back to Lewes, where I’d spent a contented best part of a year towards the end of the 1990s. After some weeks of firm conviction I abandoned the plan, deterred by the disproportionate cost of living in the southeast of England, and by a resistance towards heading backward in life, as if I could return to a place once lived in and find it, and I, comfortingly unchanged in the interim.
Last Christmas, I was even surer of making a very bold move, to live in a house with a mediaeval fortification tower in the deep south of France. Sure to the extent that we undertook a complicated quixotic journey to visit the place, the educative misadventure of which is chronicled here.
Tower surrendered, I then became surer still that we would go and live in Glastonbury, and surer than that that I had found the right house; until last week when a deal couldn’t be reached and it dropped away. Although this of all the options remains open, and the fact that it hasn’t happened as smoothly as I might initially have hoped – that we will after leaving here break my resistance and go backwards for a time – has some definite advantages, which I wasn’t able to see for looking too fixedly in the one anticipated direction.
This capriciousness sets me at a loss as to how to understand or explain myself. Yes, I’m completely responsible for treating major life decisions and commitments like a tangle of frilly costumes in a child’s dressing-up box, upending my self-image as a prudent and serious adult. Even the stories I could make up to rationalise this behaviour are, frankly, lame and shaggy dogs. 1) Experiments in freefall freedom, having no longer any strong family or community bonds pulling on where I might live, and having had all previous life moves predetermined by universities, research grants and jobs. 2) The fun, and delusion, of imagining myself into an expanding range of possible future lives, and then dropping them to dodge the inevitable disappointment of arriving. 3) Rigorous exercise in saying ‘yes’ to possibilities, however improbable, instead of ‘not allowed to’.
At the threshold now of the final eighth of this Berlin life, a kind of stocktaking has crept up with the events of the past week, with a future orientation decided upon, but not what happens when we get there.
Coming home at last to uncertainty. Or, more pungently, the question I don’t answer, ‘do I have a clue?’
Out of the stocktaking has come a need, caprice, to suspend blogging, both here and on Posterous, for the unforeseeable future. Even without posting regularly, I’m noticing that holding myself to the constant expectation that I will post holds a sway over what I think, and the parameters within which I think, which together constrict. Pointedly, some things else are haunting me to be tackled, and they terrify me, and the relative ease of posting I realise channels me to keep on ducking their demands.
Of course, caprice, I may be back here next week. Or perhaps resurface elsewhere.