Is today the Boxing Day holiday? I suspect it is. It doesn’t much matter to me. This time of year I barely recognise what day it is (Monday?), let alone if it’s a public holiday or not.
In the past this period between Christmas and New Year would be spent living very simply. If I worked it was generally pretty cursory – most offices are on half staff if open, it’s more about showing up than it is embarking on anything serious. I used to enjoy that. You’d go in wearing your casual clothes, have a chat about what happened over Christmas, do your work, and then generally pack up early and lock the door behind you.
If I wasn’t working I might hardly emerge from my cave the whole period. Back in the day that was a kind of antidote to a years worth of frenetic activity, of deadlines and dramas and serious work stuff, not to mention the personal striving. Come Boxing Day all that would be set aside until the new year. I’d sleep in every day. When I woke I would set about the books I’d collected for this very period – one year I went through over a thousand pages in this time. I’d have the cricket on often, lazing on the couch to watch it, before switching it off again in the hope it might bring some luck. I’d mix myself a drink each evening, and more often than not would get creative in the kitchen. I might catch up with a friend, might pop out for a barbecue or something just to change it up, but then I’d scuttle back to my cave.
It’s a time when I’d mentally switch off from so much of the stuff that in the normal course of events would daily consume my mind, and instead switch on to another kind of thinking. Much of that would be general. I’d sit up and reflect on something I’d just read and let it enlarge and extrapolate in my mind. I’d probe and ponder at the small mysteries that emerged throughout this. I felt like an idle philosopher or intellectual.
The other kind of thinking goes hand in hand with the time of year. A few days out from a brand new year I’d generally find myself reflecting on the events of the year past. I’d have gripes and regrets, but overall I’d generally be reasonably well pleased. Up until a few years ago there was a steady career progression, and the major regrets were more personal. Having done that I would look ahead in a disorganised fashion. My sister used to make lists plotting the year ahead, but I was never that regimented. I never sat down to deliberately consider these things. They came to me, like thought balloons waiting to connect, and once connected I’d examine the contents of each of them. Then I’d go off and read a book until the next thought balloon popped along.
The official end of this ‘phony’ life each year coincided with whatever new years eve celebration I attended. Then I would be in full hedonistic mode. Emerged from my cave I was ready to taste the earthly delights the world had to offer – food, booze, party, women.
As they have been the last few years the circumstances are different this year from the traditional, but much of the same process occurs, at least in concept.
As of Saturday I am back at my sister’s home. She is away with the kids in the states for nearly 4 weeks. It feels good to have space around me, peace, and the option to do many different things. I’ve felt like a hobo of late, and the tip is I will again. For now there is relative tranquility. I can do the things I wrote of, I’ll read, watch the cricket, I’ll cook and generally take it easy. I’ll not bother to look back over the year past, but I’ll take a keener interest in the year ahead than what I have before. This year there’s no waiting for thought bubbles to float my way.
The extra this year is the book I’m writing. I haven’t written a word of it since before Christmas, which disturbs me. I was on such a roll leading into it, and pleased with what I was coming up with. I have to get back to it. I’m about 30,000 words in. I reckon it’s a 70-75,000 word book, and it’s my intention to be close to that total that by the time I have to move away from here. I’ll start again today. It’s important not just for what it is – a surprisingly competent novel (so far – I think), but the fact of writing means that I am, for a change, productive. That does a lot for the soul.
In the couple of days I’ve been here there’s a sense of catching up. It was a strange half-existence in Rosebud, not unpleasant, but a long way from real also. I lived in one room basically. I couldn’t cook, had only intermittent internet access, was socially isolated, and was stuck with commercial TV. It was a constrained lifestyle that always felt temporary.
Since returning I’ve hooked up my iMac and looked on as it updated itself, as if, like me, it had been in a form of hibernation. I’ve surfed the internet and downloaded this and that. I have access to Foxtel again. The programs I was watching and left off mid-series are either not on, or progressed to a point it’s not worth watching, but still I feel as if I have re-joined the conversation. I have a kitchen at my disposal, and a barbecue, and Rigby has a proper yard to frolic in.
I’ll be out of here come the 19th, which will be here sooner than you think. After that I don’t know, but I have to make the time I have here count.
My focus is the personal. When I look ahead to next year there are a million things I need to get back to, most which are things that the average dude takes for granted. I’m not the average dude. There are many things that are a priority – I need a place to live, I need income. What I need most though is hope and a reasonable sense of expectation. They’re things I’ve manufactured for myself, day after day, week after week, and it’s been sapping, like a succubus sucking the life from you. I’m tired in every conceivable way. Like I’ve said before, it can’t go on like this. I’ll come up empty one day unless something changes.
What I need is an authentic sense of hope and expectation that exists externally to me. I could list a lot of things that might do that for me, but foremost now in my mind is the desire for affection and belonging. I’ve withheld myself from those very things for so long, but now for my health need to be more selfish. It’s a lot to ask someone to partner me in this, but perhaps it’s reasonable to hope for someone who will believe in me and give me support, and perhaps their love. To achieve that I have to first open myself up. That’s hard for a man like me. I can spill anonymously as I do here, but it’s a vastly different matter to do it face to face. That’s my challenge I guess, to overcome my fear, and the sense of humiliated pride.
End of the day it has to happen.