I've had that kind of week which has been punctuated by lots of pointing little fingers. They each pop up unexpectedly to poke me in the forehead. Somewhere behind, a voice seems to be saying, 'What the hell are you doing with your life? What the HELL are you doing with your life?'
Yeah - that kind of week.
Lots of these conversations have been happening:
'Hi, my name's Henry. What's your name?'
'Hi, I'm Darren.'
'So, what do you do, Darren?'
'I'm training to be a lawyer, while researching a cure for AIDs with Nobel-Peace-Prize-Winning scientists at Imperial College London in my spare time. Also, I live in a huge converted loft flat on Shoreditch Highstreet with my beautiful wife and have just got my flying license. What do you do?'
'Um - I'm a writer. I suppose.'
Yeah again. The kind of conversation you wish you had a pre-prepared answer for, to simply explain your life in a quick, impressive, conclusive sentence. Unfortunately I haven't quite worked that answer out yet. But the shitness of the week has made me come to a few decisions I realise I needed prompting for anyway. I also wrote some poems I didn't completely hate.
It made me think about the artists who I most admire, turning difficult, sometimes terrible or horrific situations in their lives into something beautiful, meditative, that can make you understand a complex emotion more comprehensibly. I think probably the bravest thing you can do artistically (and generally) is to expose the saddest, most insular, loneliest part of yourself and use it to construct an accurate picture of itself. It is through this that we connect. Nothing horrific has happened to me - just uncomfortable.
Examples I like of vulnerability turned to beauty are:
THIS POEM by Elizabeth Bishop.
THIS SONG AND VIDEO by Peter Broderick.
THIS SONG by Cat Power.
THIS SONG by Rufus Wainwright.
And of course, THIS SONG by Imogen Heap in the Frou Frou days.
Whenever I regret some event in my life I instantly think, like a kind of default setting, 'NO REGRETS. NO REGRETS.' Which is a phrase I now understand to be totally fatuous. You will always have regrets. What makes you wise, or adult, or whatever you want to call it, is the way you use them.
This phrase from Geoff Dyer pretty much sums up how I feel:
"Have regrets. They are fuel. On the page they flare into desire."
But it doesn't just have to be on the page. It can be anywhere.
It Is Gone Again
Sometimes the circles of our lives spin fast
Or round about
In gentle spirals
That we barely perceive
Yet feel the repercussions of
Like a look you know
Four times before
Something in the eye
That lets me know
It's not alright
A segment of a line
Divided into points that fold over and dissolve
Even your smile
I've seen it twice before
A hundred times
These difficulties seemingly will never die
Only spin around again
And yet you show no sign of pain
While my head spins dim and drained
Well no, it doesn't matter -
That closeness that we do not share
I've felt it all before you see
I know the path on which the circle threads
The anomalies and frailties
While you talk about yourself
Well yes, you know as well.
I wonder if you see the circle too?
If another has encircled you?
Perhaps you do not stray from it to feel the pain -
Buying drinks for me before the party
But with the secret to be close
Which, clearly, we cannot discuss -
So you wave me to the bus
Your ambivalence does not relent
Your stitch in time has snagged and bent.
And yet my circle carries on
That seems to circle until I'm dead
Which is what you might expect,