A few things.
I’ve always felt very temporary about myself. How best to sum it up? That moment in Heat, when Robert De Niro says someone once told him: “Don't let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner” - that’s how to sum it up. I don’t have long-term contracts. I don’t have a mortgage, or a loan, or a phone contract, or a lease agreement on a car. Everything I have, I own myself - except where I live. I rent a loft and I’m happy with it. Because it’s not mine - I could give notice and leave it behind, move on. And so I’ve always done.
I went to Hong Kong 14 years and 2 months ago. It was supposed to be for a while, so see what happened. It was 11 years of trying new things and being isolated from baggage and stuff I didn’t need and left behind. Every few years I would have to move to a new flat, either through monetary or social reasons. It taught me that everything you have is just Stuff, and you don’t need half of what you think you do. When I got back and found that I had misplaced a whole box of Stuff, I wasn’t too upset. I was more concerned about how I’d made that much of a mistake, not about the Stuff itself. As it turns out, you can replace Stuff if you have enough money and access to Tinternet. So there’s that.
The problem now is that I’m back and I’m bored. I always thought I’d be here for a while, but now I’m not so sure. When I go to bed I wonder about other countries and where to go next. I think about getting a job in the U.S. so I can volunteer at Dragon*Con every year. I think about how easy it would technically and financially be to go to Europe and work there whilst the UK passport is still good. When I’m at work and people talk about problems and the state of the world, I wonder how I can volunteer for the Mars One programme. And that’s where things get depressing.
See, it’s all Star Trek’s fault. We can all strive and work towards the best that we can make things, but there will always be people like Donald Trump or Radovan Karadzic bringing us all back down again. But part of you still wants to accomplish incredible things - to travel, to see, to try, to understand, to get away from everything familiar and experience The New. You wonder why you can’t just bring drinking water to an entire continent overnight, because you’ve thought of a way. Or how you can stop violence against a majority by changing everyone’s minds overnight.
And then it comes back to the reason, the excuse, the barrier: people. One person is great; one person can indeed change the world. But people? They’re arseholes. They’re stubborn, jealous, vindictive, tiny-minded, judgemental gits. And that will never change. You could have the secret of clean energy for the entire planet, and there’d still be someone trying to stop you before you could plug it in. You could have a sit-down with major world leaders and be on the verge of everyone saying “You know, you’re right - why are we even fighting about this? What a bunch of twats we’ve been all this time” and there’d be one person spiking the water with Stella to start a new punch-up.
So I guess I’ll just keep on keeping on. I’ll continue to go to work, turn up the music, lay on the alcohol, and watch Time roll by. I feel like I’m literally wasting (filling?) time until I finally die. I don’t want to, but the idea doesn’t scare me, either. It just fills me with sadness that I won’t have done anything worthwhile before I go. I think if I was on a plane or in a car crash or something where I had 3 seconds to realise the inevitable was about to happen, my reaction would be something like ‘well, shit’. Resignation, acceptance, disappointment. That’s what it would feel like.
In the meantime, I am trying to get an original fiction novel published. That’s going about as well as you’d expect - even though every time I send it off, I’m excited and hopeful. Give it two months with no favourable reply and I’m back to square one.
And so it goes.