“What are you doing…?” That’s what my friends normally ask me, as I stagger around church after a Sunday service. And it’s such a loaded question! Indeed, I ask it to myself often: what am I doing? What on earth am I doing?!
Of course, they’re asking about work, and it’s such a tough one to answer, because I do lots of little, different things. Currently, I divide my time between Sooty, a customer experience management company, and my own projects. I’m fortunate that I get paid to live out this unorthodox existence. And I call it ‘unorthodox’ not because I wish to distinguish myself from others; rather, it’s how I feel when I wander from person to person, post-sermon on a Sunday. I feel like I’m inhabiting an entirely different universe, and there’s something quite isolating about that.
That’s not to say that people aren’t supportive, or that they don’t lovingly attempt to get their heads around what I’m doing, despite my (sometimes) incoherent nature. When I explained to one person that I was currently helping a teddy bear and his dog friend send replies to children’s messages, she thought it was wonderful. She said I was like a character in novel! And that’s a compliment, really – it’s a nice thing to hear. And it’s nice to be thought of in that way. There’s something suitably bohemian about it!
And yet, in the dark hours of the soul, when you’re burning the midnight oil, when friends are getting engaged or having children or buying houses or buying cars, and you’re all-too-aware of how chaotically different your own lifestyle is, it’s quite painful to think that you’re like a character in a fantasy world. That is when you look in the mirror and say, “What on earth am I doing…?”
That said, I don’t want those lifestyles! Oof, the arrogance of the man! Let me qualify – there’s nothing wrong with marriage or children or houses or cars, because we’re all on different paths. When I say “I don’t want them,” I mean, right now, they’re not for me. They’re not where I’m currently headed.
For example, I was looking after my adorable nephew Jack the other day, (only temporarily whilst my sister was grabbing a shower.) And for a moment, I allowed myself to imagine that I was the father, and this was my son. I allowed this scenario to play out as I answered the front door and conversed with a lady from a charity, baby in arm, gurgling and protesting, (that’s Jack, not me!) It’s quite freaky really – for a few minutes, you’re in an alternate reality, where you’re married and have your own home and are responsible for a tiny little boy. And I am certain that I do not belong there.
Inevitably, that’s when you start to question: should I belong there? Am I kidding myself with this so-called ‘job’ of creativity? These questions are even more important right now, as I know I have to find a new home soon, and that’s going to change the shape of all kinds of things, including my day-to-day life, my finances, my temperament… Is it time to step out of the novel and join the humans? Or do I accept that I live in a different reality to my peers, and carry on regardless? I don’t know! I genuinely don’t know! I suppose society would say that you should do whatever you want to achieve your dreams, (which is quite nauseating, really!) But then society would also ask me if I had a wife or a house yet (grr!) so the only conclusion I can draw from that is… society doesn’t really know!
Which is a pity, because I don’t know either!