I mean, everyone is afraid of the future, right? Even though it technically does not exist, and all we ever have is the present, the future is still, well, pretty scary. For a number of reasons.
Mostly because it is the dreaded “Unknown”, wherein we, day by day, step deeper and deeper into a pitch-black cave, carrying aloft a fiery torch that only illuminates space a few feet ahead of us. The flickering shadows do not help; we have a tendency to see shapes in them, like bats or hungry monsters who might chew off our legs. Apart from our fear of coming to the end of the cave, we are also scared of not finding what we desire in it. For isn’t that what we want, most of all – for the cave of our lives to resemble the one in the Aladdin story, crammed with riches galore, the odd magical lamp that conjures a genie in a puff of violet smoke when rubbed? I mean, I don’t know about you, but I certainly do. At least, sometimes.
See, it’s funny; when you’re depressed, not only having you stopped moving inside the cave, the cave has ceased to exist. So when the funk comes to an end, you feel like a tiny homunculus wobbling on teensy legs that has been unceremoniously dumped in a cavern large as the universe – everything becomes awfully, awfully frightening, when you suddenly find yourself with many dreams and many goals bubbling inside your heart with no absolute guaranteed assurance they will come true. How much easier and less stressful would it be, if three wishes fell into our lap – but it would be far less rewarding, if it were so easy.
For my part, what I want to do, most of all, is to write books I am proud of, and then publish them so other people can share in my daydreams. It is something I have always wanted to do, ever since I was a little girl cracking open her first book sprawled on the living room carpet with her tiny, chubby fingers.
Thing is, I am nowhere close to that dream. Well, perhaps not nowhere close; I am sure, if I was pressured to, I could write a book in the next few months, though one probably of low quality. What I am struggling with now, along with trying to improve my craft, is letting my book ideas ferment inside my head long enough for them to blossom into full-fledged novels, like embryos growing, slowly, into fetuses. Unlike human babies, however, books, for me at least, have a long gestation period, as bits and pieces of my lives slowly squirrel away down to my subconscious, where all the magic happens, to brew and steam the idea into a rich and frothy concoction.
Just off the top of my head, I have two main book ideas currently gestating. They have been doing so for quite a while. And, as any of you writers or creative creatures probably know, starting creations before they have finished “gestating” is a bad move: your book baby will plop out prematurely, unformed or deformed; the time simply is not right – you will know when it is right, as many mothers can probably attest. Unfortunately, just like human babies, stories are fickle, and are not born when you want them to. Without that long-fermented idea, like aged wine or cheese, whatever I write will only be a watery, diluted narrative, and very irritating to see drip down the page.
Speaking of babies, I have been thinking about babies, and, well, marriage, quite a lot lately. Obviously, I am still far too young to seriously consider such “grown-up matters”, at least according to people close to me, but my excitable brain likes to leave no stone unturned. At this stage, considering my social anxiety issues, I simply cannot imagine myself even dating, let alone getting married one day and having children. Being the slightly odd creature that I am, the likelihood of finding a similarly odd creatures who will in turn agree to spend the rest of their life with me (a formidable task indeed; I wouldn’t recommend it on my worst enemy) is also low – but you never know, I suppose; there are an awful lot of people in the world.
But what I cannot bear, most of all, is to be realistic about love, and reconcile myself to the existential loneliness inherent in life, the sad fact that no-one on this planet can ever truly understand or “see” into me – half the time I don’t even understand myself, so it’s ridiculous to expect someone else to! Sure, from out my cynical mouth there may spout all sorts of jaded notions of love, “Most marriages end in divorce” and “No human being can complete you”, but, at the end of the day, I am still a hopeless romantic, and in my head there exist all sorts of silly notions regarding fate and destiny, and (I am cringing at myself), “The One”.
Fantasies of meeting eyes with someone on the other side of the bookshelf, or sitting down on an aeroplane right next to the person I will spend the rest of my life with, are still very much at the forefront of my mind, no matter how cynical and realistic I outwardly appear. Like many people, I do want the sickly-sweet shebang, though perhaps with a quirky edge: finding flowers poking through my ventilation, or having books I have been browsing on Amazon mysteriously appearing on my doorstep, complete with handwritten personal reviews. Deep inside, I am sick with yearning for romance, and I am afraid that sickness will always be there, if I never experience it with someone in real life, just sitting there and…wanting.
Truth is, the thought of never getting married saddens me greatly. Sure, I might not want the house with the two dogs and the white picket fence, but like all humans, I am afraid of loneliness, and it is always nice to have someone to cuddle with and keep you warm at night, someone you can pour all your secrets and thoughts and fears to. This world is a big, scary place – who wouldn’t want a partner to face it with? Having been always the odd one, never fitting in, never feeling like anyone related to me, probably contributes to this particular desire; I’ve always dreamed of finding someone who could finally accept me, for who I am, without being repelled by my weirdness; someone who could see past my twin weapons of aloofness and seclusion enough to get to know, or even want to know, the “real me”.
And let us not even mention children. These days many career woman are rejoicing being single and renouncing men (or women) left, right and centre, as well as children, who they view as grubby, messy creatures – but I am not one of those women. I do want children, one day, only in the way someone might vaguely want a house full of cats and books on a hill in the middle of nowhere. Sometime, someday… It would just be so delightful, to have a little person who has genetic imprints of you in them, who you can play with, and read to, unload years of knowledge upon, and read to…
Either way, all these goals regarding marriage and children, and finding love and acceptance and not being lonely, all pale in comparison to my main dream, which is to become an author. It will happen, much as I moan and fret over it; I know it will, it is just a matter of time. Still, it is the waiting, and working, that is the most agonising part of any dream. The journey is hard; the destination is easy. When I achieve it, I think I would not mind never getting married or having children and being lonely for the rest of my life: for I would have my books still, the ones I have written and the several billion I fill my shelves with, and probably at least five cats, and my characters to talk to when the nights get long and dark.
For unlike you mere mortals, who require flesh-and-blood human beings to assuage loneliness, us authors have a ready supply of interesting imaginary people wandering about in our heads to have a chat with when it is getting a little quiet – so there’s that, at least.