Things are arriving, packages. That’s how we obtain things we need now, like red cross parcels. I’ve come to look forward to the postman arriving. Choosing things on a screen, typing in a few numbers, seeing the red van and the tattooed calves now represents a very disjointed contact with the outside world.
Spending is psychologically ingrained, more than I previously realised. I want to go out now but I’m waiting for things to arrive. Things which I can say I need – kitchen scales. Nothing ridiculously extravagant, all things I will use. I look at my bank account and worry about how much money goes each month on “discretionary spend”, (for which read ‘random things I’ve forgotten about’) and imagine what I could do instead with that money. Well, buy things, obviously. It doesn’t matter, I survive, I don’t get behind with bills like I used to, I’ll reach an equilibrium soon where I have all I need anyway.
The strange aspect that is yet to balance itself is the fact that my renewed art practise requires head space, which I now think I have plenty of, recently vacated by erstwhile necessary concerns over ticketing, and the small social whirlwind that accompanies that world, but it also needs an allowance of down time, relaxation, switching off. Professor Brill OBE called this blank time, although I think he appropriated the phrase from another artist. To offset this blank time, or maybe actually to complement it, an amount of intelligent indulgence should be permissible, too, in fact I think is necessary. I’m developing a comfortable physical space to watch films without desk distractions, and will allow time in the day to watch films and refuse house room to any other contrary intrusions into my head space. Cinema is accessible escapism, amongst many other things, yet I am too good at resisting its pull. I’m terrible at getting distracted, I find it very difficult at settling on doing one thing. Sometimes the TV is just background sound, I have a long list of tv series I want to watch, but don’t start until I have time to commit to them properly. So the list grows, and instead I choose things I’ve already seen as comfort viewing, and do something else at the same time. Breaking that habit is overdue. It might work as a way of switching the mind off from work pre-occupations, I’m just beginning to realise I’ve lost the impetus to do this over several years, and lost sight of the need to remember to do this. This phase in the world is proof, if I ever needed it, that I’ve allowed the job, the world of ticketing, to take too big a place in my life. It’s just letters, colours and shapes on a screen. People get obsessed by them.
I’ve got out of the habit of going to Sainsbury’s every day. Food isn’t in short supply now, as it was for a few weeks, whilst everyone indulged in panic mongering. I want to eat less, and have cupboards full of sustenance foods, tinned and packet goods which last forever, don’t excite, but nourish. I want to start growing vegetables on the balcony in spring. I could order a box set of The Good Life for research. I really hope this is the beginning of a change in pace for many and a re-drafting of priorities. Some seem desperate for this “lockdown” to end (is this the first time I’ve used the L word?), desperate to get back to their own normality, as a security blanket. Some are ignoring the unique specialness of this time, allowing it to dissolve, and for background noise and pollution to return. Others are mentally deranged, possessed, suggesting it’s deliberate, a hoax, New World Order, the “great reset”, a most unsatisfactory unintelligent term. I find that mentality fascinating, the need to assume there is some other truth that only they can understand. I think it grows from insecurity, people who somehow feel life isn’t what they expected it to be, they haven’t had their fair share of good fortune, and want to attribute blame somewhere. Engaging in real life events, politics and critical thinking runs the risk of being discredited, proved wrong. Far better to support an outlandish construct that exists largely in the imagination, as by being abstract and nebulous it can’t ever be entirely proved or disproved.
I’m drifting towards disengaging from these debates; they fill my head with negative energy, fuel angry thought, provoke confused dreams. I’m trying to form my own blueprint for the future. I don’t know what it will look like yet. That is terrifying yet positive. Removing all support and framework from one’s life can be terrifying yet liberating. Am I trapped in my life? I don’t think so at present. I am dependent on certain aspects of the present, mostly the job, because it brings a supply of ready cash, so, paradoxically, I need to be back working and earning a predictable regular amount, in order to be able to realistically plot my transition to a new phase of existence, whatever that may be. Before all this hiatus started I think I just passively accepted that I would probably be doing the same job for the foreseeable future, and any future dreams would diminish over time. I started writing this piece talking about spending money, acquiring things, but that is just filling time, buying things used to fill the time, fill the emptiness. Really the new phase will be based on needing less, consuming less, being free of debt, comparatively free of ties, although that may never really be possible; a few ties and connections are needed to ground ourselves, otherwise we float aimlessly without purpose, unable to achieve anything. I uprooted myself with little in the way of a plan once before. I survived but only just. If I do it again I’ll have to know why I’m doing it. There has to be a purpose, otherwise why do anything?