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Wandering thoughts - Suffering From Elation
A Survivor's Tale
Wandering thoughts
The van fell through. But that's OK, there will be other vans. The upcoming holiday plans will have to be rewritten; a flight to Melbourne instead of a van, but that's okay too, it'll mean less time off work and less time spent travelling - and more time spent enjoying Being There. There are plenty of other vans, the right one will come along.

I have felt strange lately. I'd say it has a lot to do with how I fell out of my workaday routine while I was sick at home, and stopped taking my anti-pms pills. While I'm on an exceedingly light dose (think a quarter of a tic-tac a day), adjusting to being off them over four or so days was perturbing. I'd started hearing nasty internal dialogue from my own reflection again; haven't had that for a while. And the Doubting of Everything... I'd almost forgotten what that was like. Back on them today.

Still, this hiccup kicked my wanderlust back into gear. Joe and I went to a picnic at Mt Cootha with Erinn, Ro, Cameron, and a bunch of their friends (one of whom was Adrian, a dude I worked at Fuze with... which just goes to show that all the awesome people in Brisbane are connected in a vast network of awesome). The two of us arrived early so we could go on our own private bushwalk. Climbing up to a waterfall, we talked about the van and places we'd like to go, and I talked again about this idea that I'd like to live on the road for a while - just a year or two - living in the van, working physical jobs, following the fruit picking circuit around Australia, writing in between it all. I struggle with this feeling of uselessness in my current job. I'm paid a shitload of money to make pretty little pictures that go into machines designed to mathematically strip their users of cash. Whilst the fact that I'm creating something tangible should give me job satisfaction, I just don't have it. I don't feel connected to anything. I've no passion left for this line of work.

Sounds like I'm whinging, right? I get paid to paint for eight hours a day. My coworkers are brilliant, awesome people and great friends; the working conditions are wonderful, and for the most part my bosses are reasonable men. This is most people's dream job.

But I want to do something HARD. Something that challenges me every day. Something that contributes to the world in a way that is simple and tangible, but not destructive. I'm sure it all sounds like hippie bullshit, and after a couple of weeks of breaking my back picking apples I'm sure I'll probably have a whole new set of things to bitch and moan about, but nevertheless, I want to do it. And I want to feel like I can go wherever I feel like going, stay as long as I feel like staying, and know that in the next month, or even the next week, I will not be in exactly the same place doing exactly the same things.

I want to be free of the weight of possessions too. In that pursuit, I reorganized the kitchen and bathroom on Monday, put some systems in place, threw out a bunch of stuff, and it helped a little. I wandered through the garage assessing what can go (90% of the stuff in there) and what can stay, so that the job will be faster when we finally have a van to drive all that crap to the dump and/or St Vinnies.

Don't get me wrong. Eventually I want a house, children, even a marriage (though I question a number of aspects of that tradition) - but not now, not yet. Right now I want to be free, while I'm young and healthy but unfettered, before I'm responsible for little lives and big mortgage payments.

What I have right now is an uncomfortable middle ground. I do not have the stability and (different) freedom of my own home. Joe and I share with another and in everything we do we have to be mindful of that, and we have never been the best at being mindful in that way. It's a weight. Knowing that our living companion has to be mindful of us in return is another weight. Then there are the little things that make a house seem like home, and they are things I can't do: I can't hang pictures or repaint or spread out; in short, I can't really make it a home. I have no right to; it's NOT my home, it's just the place where I live, my ticket forked over in fifties and twenties each fortnight. And sometimes it feels like, well, if I can't do any of that fun settling-in stuff, why do anything at all? Why not just leave piles of crap in the garage and scrape by doing the bare minimum of organisation? We're only clinging on the back of someone else's beast; why get comfortable? Historically I've moved once a year, EVERY year, since I left home eight years ago. I've never given myself time to get comfortable anywhere. Reorganising the kitchen and bathroom stuff so it was "how I want it" rather than just "functionally and minimally unpacked from cardboard boxes" was a new experience. We've now lived here for almost a year. For once, we're not planning to go anywhere. This is about as comfortable as I've been in any living arrangement.

But still there's that middle-ground feeling; we've too many possessions and obligations to be free but too few possessions and obligations to be safe, anchored, established. We're drifting in a quasi-reality, our future still undefined, but the day on which we contemplate signing the next 20 years over to a mortgage and some kids is visible on the horizon.

I know nobody can be entirely free; I know eventually you're meant to settle down and become a Contributing Member of Society, and I plan to do so. But between now and that looming eventuality of commitment is this expanse of Choice. Freedom. To spend the next few years just... painting empty shiny pictures for gambling machines, and paying the rent, and doing it all again and again every day, seems to me a terrible waste of an opportunity.

I never want to look back on my life and wonder what I might have missed out on.
23 have fought ~ fight the power!
(Deleted comment)
tania From: tania Date: May 5th, 2009 10:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
I already have personal challenges outside the workplace - I'm learning French, I'm writing, I play games, I bushwalk, I go to the gym to increase my fitness level. I think the predictability of my routine at the moment is what bothers me. This is pretty much the last time in my life I'll have the potential freedom to take risks (I wouldn't want to do so when there's a mortgage and kids to consider) and I feel almost as though it'd be irresponsible of me NOT to get this out of my system so I can settle down, when the time is right, without regrets.
rosequoll From: rosequoll Date: May 5th, 2009 09:10 am (UTC) (Link)
What are you on (anti-pms). The idea that something can get rid of (or even help with) the worrying and that continuous horrible inner dialog would be something I'd sign my soul over for at the moment.

I wish I could say something helpful other than, 'yeah....I know'. =(
tania From: tania Date: May 5th, 2009 10:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Low dose of zoloft. Talk to your GP, you can get it there, doesn't even require a psychiatrist visit. You might only be able to get it from your GP for period-related woes though, I'm not sure - definitely talk to him/her and find out! It makes a subtle but effective difference to me, especially around my period.
rosequoll From: rosequoll Date: May 5th, 2009 10:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have an appointment with my GP to talk over other stuff tomorrow, so I'll mention it.
tania From: tania Date: May 5th, 2009 11:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Speaking of tomorrow, where did you want to do Star Trek? And which session? Do you think we'll need to pre-buy tickets? Do you mind if I bring along a few more people?
rosequoll From: rosequoll Date: May 5th, 2009 11:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Frick, Garden City (since I'm at work until 7pm and don't have time to get home and then to someplace else), 8:45pm, Yes, prebuy, I'm doing mine now and will let you know the seats I pick, and go ahead!
rosequoll From: rosequoll Date: May 5th, 2009 11:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Okay, tickets purchased for me, Kelvin and Whyrl. I've uploaded a screenshot ofthe seats I picked. =)


8:45pm, yay! see you there. =)
tania From: tania Date: May 6th, 2009 12:24 am (UTC) (Link)
B'aww crap, I've made a Mistake. :( The car is still fucked and I didn't realise we'd be trying to get to Garden City - I'll be hard pressed to get home and changed, then get there on PT by start time, and getting home to Kenmore via bus at that time on a weeknight will be impossible.

Can we raincheck for another movie? Theoretically in future we will have working wheels, and Getting There will not be a problem. ^_^;
rosequoll From: rosequoll Date: May 6th, 2009 12:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Awr. =( That's fine. I'd offer you a ride home, but that's an hour drive at almost 11pm, which considering my recent overwhelming tiredness would be a 'bad idea' tm

No chance of anyone coming along that could drive? =P I'm just being fussy cause I was looking forward to seeing you. And definite raincheck for another movie. =)
tania From: tania Date: May 6th, 2009 01:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Apparently not - my coworkers were the ones coming, and they are all avowed nondrivers. We're talking it over ourselves, thinking we might still see it, just at a closer cinema.

*hugs* We'll do something cool very, very soon. Anything you've been jonesing for?
bizarreoptimism From: bizarreoptimism Date: May 5th, 2009 02:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Freedom is one of the things I struggle with most -- what does it mean? Who is truly free? How does one BE free? -- and so I feel your pain, even though your struggle with it is somewhat different from mine (though that's really only to be expected, seeing as we're different people and all). Because surely responsibility does not necessarily equal sacrifice of freedom -- does it?? I struggle with this a LOT, and, to that end, I present this poem for you. I have no idea if it will help you as much as it's helped me, but I thought I'd pass it along anyways just in case it does:

"Freedom" by Kahlil Gibran

And an orator said, "Speak to us of Freedom."

And he (the prophet) answered: At the city gate and by your fireside I have seen you prostrate yourself and worship your own freedom, Even as slaves humble themselves before a tyrant and praise him though he slays them.

Aye, in the grove of the temple and in the shadow of the citadel I have seen the freest among you wear their freedom as a yoke and a handcuff.

And my heart bled within me; for you can only be free when even the desire of seeking freedom becomes a harness to you, and when you cease to speak of freedom as a goal and a fulfillment.

You shall be free indeed when your days are not without a care nor your nights without a want and a grief, But rather when these things girdle your life and yet you rise above them naked and unbound.

And how shall you rise beyond your days and nights unless you break the chains which you at the dawn of your understanding have fastened around your noon hour?

In truth that which you call freedom is the strongest of these chains, though its links glitter in the sun and dazzle your eyes.

And what is it but fragments of your own self you would discard that you may become free? If it is an unjust law you would abolish, that law was written with your own hand upon your own forehead.

You cannot erase it by burning your law books nor by washing the foreheads of your judges, though you pour the sea upon them. And if it is a despot you would dethrone, see first that his throne erected within you is destroyed.

For how can a tyrant rule the free and the proud, but for a tyranny in their own freedom and a shame in their own pride? And if it is a care you would cast off, that care has been chosen by you rather than imposed upon you.

And if it is a fear you would dispel, the seat of that fear is in your heart and not in the hand of the feared.

Verily all things move within your being in constant half embrace, the desired and the dreaded, the repugnant and the cherished, the pursued and that which you would escape.

These things move within you as lights and shadows in pairs that cling. And when the shadow fades and is no more, the light that lingers becomes a shadow to another light.

And thus your freedom when it loses its fetters becomes itself the fetter of a greater freedom.
tania From: tania Date: May 5th, 2009 10:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Slightly OT, but Kahlil Gibran is lovely - I have his book, "The Prophet", at home. I think that's where this particular poem comes from too! I really liked his writings on love and parenting. :)
ruggels From: ruggels Date: May 5th, 2009 03:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
In this economy I'd not mess with your emplyment, OR do anything or introduce too many variables that might upset your finances.

firesplace From: firesplace Date: May 5th, 2009 03:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sounds like taking that trip to be migrant workers will mean some financial sacrifice, and will likely push other big-money pursuits (like buying a house) farther into the future. If you don't think that's too big of a compromise, go for it! There's always time to settle down later. =)
tania From: tania Date: May 5th, 2009 10:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Buying a house is already pretty far in the future; I'm unlikely to afford it alone, and Joe and I are not married at this point and wouldn't want to go into a big investment like that together unless we were. (Same deal with kids, actually.) So unless some sort of insanely golden, irresistible house opportunity falls into our laps in the next year or two (unlikely), we'll be living our current way for a few more years. I've told Joe I want to have kids when I hit 30, as waiting any longer begins to affect egg quality, so we've got roughly a three-year window, I guess.
firesplace From: firesplace Date: May 5th, 2009 11:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sounds like there's nothing to hold you back, then! =D
alby_lion From: alby_lion Date: May 5th, 2009 06:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
"...and more time spent enjoying Being There." But I thought you hated Melbourne? I always thought that was odd because Melbourne is supposed to be more of a 'take me as I am' kind of city, which ought to fit better with the "hippie bullshit" like "I want to be free of the weight of possessions too."

Keep in mind the grass always looks greener. And everybody uses the "I'm young and allowed to be wild/make mistakes" excuse, but it can easily become a rut to fall into, and next thing you know, you've done no settling, and you're 45 ready to buy a sports car and a head rug. But I sympathize with your plight. I know all too well what it feels like to be too comfortable. You should be there, not here, doing that, not this. It's a good Life, but it's not your Life.

Shame the van didn't pan out, but like you said, there will be other vans. Ever read Travels with Charley? If not, you might want to at least skim the summary. John Steinbeck did something similar to what you long for. Anyhow, Tania, you live a pretty wild, busy, and impressive Life. I can hardly see what more there is to ask for than your bazillions of friends; steady, well-paying job; and weekly adventures that few people get to experience; but it seems like your dreams are bigger, so nothing would make me more pleased with you than to see you find the freedom you want, or at least a taste of it. Make it happen, cap'n.
tania From: tania Date: May 5th, 2009 10:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm only going to Melbs for a few days, mostly for Joe's sake (he has family there) and to stop off at some dang fine chocolate shops they have down there. Heehee. Yeah, Melbs - nice place to visit but I would NOT want to live there. I feel the same way about Sydney. It's not to say they're bad cities, I'm just not big on city lifestyles in general, and Melbourne is bigger than Brisbane (and Sydney is bigger than both). Too many people.

Good for a short hol though. :)

Personally, I thought mid-life crises tend to happen to the people who settle too soon, then wake up sometime in their forties and realise they never had any adventure. I suppose I just want to work out the travel bug before I get to a point where I can't, because of mortgages and kids and such. I wouldn't want to jeopardize any of that. At this point all I have to jeopardize is a good job - which, as Scott pointed out, is important in the current financial climate. That said, I've seen other jobs I could go for, and get... but it's something to consider. :\
alby_lion From: alby_lion Date: May 5th, 2009 11:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Reminds me of this old music video:

1.The race is long, but in the end, it's only with yourself.

2. The most interesting people I don't didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-old I know still don't.
freetuningfork From: freetuningfork Date: May 6th, 2009 12:24 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't get the idea of getting things out of my system first, because I see no reason why I should stop the risk-taking and adventuring because of family responsibilities, and because it would be simply impossible to get ALL THAT out of my system, ever. It's an acknowledged part of the deal of being part of my life. I'm aggressive and competitive, but I still think capable of and worthy of familial love.

But I can think that way because I don't define freedom as freedom from responsibilities, but as having the power to define myself. Commitment is not the enemy of freedom.

There is a lot of social pressure on young educated women to NOT want to get married and have children, because that makes you seem unimaginative, unambitious, and generally not fun. I'm well aware of it, but also think it has nothing to do with me. People seem to want to express their freedoms in remarkably conformist ways.

It's probably partly upbringing, because I always assumed that "parents" are still people, and you don't stop changing because you're a grown-up now. The tension that you talk about feeling now, the desire to go and test yourself and experience and find things out is an eternal part of life. Feeling that conflict IS living life.
tania From: tania Date: May 6th, 2009 12:31 am (UTC) (Link)
I know I will always want adventures, and I do plan to have them, but I'd like to try to do the really extreme ones when I've only got myself to take care of. It's not just for the sake of the kiddies (who, if I remember childhood correctly, find frequent school-changes due to regular parental relocation a bit traumatic) but it's also for my sake; travelling and living in a van sounds do-able for two adults, but not quite so much fun for two adults and X amount of screaming babies / toddlers / young kids.

Don't get me wrong, it's do-able (Joe's parents did it for a couple of years) but it won't be easy. I really want to get some of it done now, while it's still simple.

I don't feel the pressure to NOT get married and have kids. I want those things for myself and I'm well aware I'll continue being the same weird, imaginative, vaguely annoying person during motherhood. That's not why I'm holding off. I'm holding off because I want to have a little more fun first - I've been working fulltime since age 19 - and because Joe isn't ready, and I'm not going to dump him to go find a guy who is. Being with someone I love ranks even further up the ladder than my desires for eventual mortgage/kids/settling.

That said, it'll be nice if I can have it all. Biological clock's a-ticking and all that crap. If I'm feeling any particular pressure, that's the one. I'll be 30 in slightly less than 3 years' time.
c_eagle From: c_eagle Date: May 6th, 2009 07:23 am (UTC) (Link)
if you do go for the effectively free situation, just make sure ya take care of the property n tax and a few bills n things, and then it will probably be do-able!
digitalis From: digitalis Date: May 6th, 2009 04:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh man I would feel the same way many days after my last job, of hey, this is good pay and a good career move, but...eh.

Now I'm working on an indie game with some heart and getting full ownership of all the art, and finally making my comic. I draw more now than I have in the last two years combined. But our income has gone from doing Pretty Nice to Okaaaay, as long as we budget.

I'm a lot happier than I was, but I was thankful of the time I had at my old job. But now that I have the freedom and the time that I wanted, I do miss the fufillment of going into an office and working with a big team to make something.

Maybe see if you can save up and talk to your work about a six month sabbatical or something?
23 have fought ~ fight the power!