Beyond the painted sky

For many years I lived with the sense that ahead of me in the unknown future was a path of adventure and discovery. It sat in me like a promise luring me on: it was all ahead of me.

One day I realised that sense had disappeared. There was not a destination, there was not even a path except the one I had always travelled on. I had matured, I thought, into an understanding of one of the basic fundamentals of life. Life is in the doing, not the reaching. It is in the here and now as it extrapolates into the distant future. Truly, it is about the journey rather than the destination.

Well and good, except that now I feel something different again. While my opinion is unchanged I find myself feeling my life repeat. Perhaps I have come to the age where that is to be expected. You live in a place long enough, you do the same things and mix with the same people it is inevitable that some sort of déjà vu will be experienced.

That’s where I’m at. I feel like I’m on an infinite loop that makes a broad circuit. It takes in the same things as it has the last 20 years. Occasionally it travels through interesting territory, through a foreign land perhaps, or in a quirky situation different from before but the same in nature. Everything regardless, even the good stuff, seems familiar.

I may enjoy the moments along the way, but it dismays me to think that they are part of a string of similar moments. More than most I get restless and bored. There seems something inauthentic in doing the same things over and over again. It’s inevitable that I’ll want to change things up if I can. To be in a loop, as I suspect most people are, infers something vaguely artificial as if we mindlessly follow the way laid out for us.

The problem is I don’t know how to step away from that path. I wonder if this kind of thinking is typical of those who suffer a mid-life crisis. Is that what this is? Well, it doesn’t seem as extreme as that. I feel pretty cool and measured. I don’t have the urge to go out and buy a Harley Davidson, though the urge to open a bookshop or move out bush remains. My mind is calculating, not excited. I have concluded something coolly and want to act on it rationally.

Maybe it’s all an illusion. The life we lead or believe we lead. Or perhaps my take on it now is false. Perhaps whatever I choose to do is part of the journey, a way-station on the loop. Perhaps it is all pre-destined no matter how we struggle and strive. Perhaps we are all variations of Truman living in our own construct.

Still, be it what it is, I want to act on it, to change something to make it different, to get onto a different path or, at the least, change loops. If it is an illusion I want to see the flickering edges of it, to sail to the edges of the sea.

Update: I went for a walk at lunch today and found myself at Readings. I browsed the shelves of the store for about 30 minutes. As always I found the experience soothing as well as interesting. There is a sense of calm in most bookshops. Arrayed on the walls is a wealth of knowledge, and those people gathered to peruse them are all of common mind. I guess in a way it is like a club.

As I took one book down to check out and then another it struck me how books speak directly to my soul. For a moment I saw the experience of reading, of absorbing knowledge, was separate to what I described above. It is easy to believe when you are transported to a different time and place, to other worlds, by the skill and imagination of the writer. In the end, though the act of reading remains within the loop, regardless of its pleasures.

It’s different when I write. Even when I write something as simple as this I am stepping aside from life to observe in a different way and to report on it. It is more pronounced when I write creatively. It is such a wrench that you can’t help but be temporarily ‘unseated’ by it. I carried the books I selected to the counter. I looked forward in my leisure to sitting and enjoying them. It is a warm, precious, pleasure. It is leisure though.

It’s when I write that I am taken out of myself, though the process is really internal. I go deeper. I dig, upturning established realities and perspectives, like a gardener turning over an old garden bed with a pitchfork to enable new growth. It’s an interesting process, which for a little while takes me away from the established routines and accepted realities of everyday life.

It’s the act of creation that interrupts the loop because it is outside of it. I’m sure it’s the same in different ways for all the different creative outlets, but in writing, you look beyond the painted sky to what lies beyond. That’s why I write I think and keep going back to it: to find something new and to understand it.

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