The Next Big Thing

It is the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. Migration has begun. Not just the birds; also the people who embraced the summer heat and then looked ahead to the winter and realised that they don’t want to wade through that again. Without thinking too hard I can name four people of my immediate acquaintance who have chosen to jet off to Spain, Italy or Australia before the rain arrives this year. (Or snow. Sometimes we have that, too.) The same sort of migration happens every year. Equally, there are people suddenly coming back to the UK, or who have chosen to stay when they had every intention of leaving.

It seems, sometimes, that despite the New Year’s reputation for resolutions and life makeovers, autumn is the time when people really take stock of their lives. It’s the lull between the drunk-on-light summer fun and the crazy Christmas season. The weather is not yet too bad and the days not yet so short that hibernation has kicked in, but the closing dark and the slowed pace of life bring things into focus a bit. The possibilities are still out there and achievable, but the clock is ticking.

Normally I surmise this sort of pseudo-philosophy from my own state of mind, but conversations with different people have cemented it a bit. A lunch with work colleagues ended with people sharing one big item from their bucket list (and I was surprised to find that, despite having written a list three years ago, that day I couldn’t remember anything on it). Various twitter sport folk are figuring out their A races and plans for next year, or deciding whether they even want to race or need a break. So many things that were being looked forward to and planned for are done, and ‘what next?’ is in the air.

There are so many what next?s.

For my part, this weekend is the first time in a while that I’ve been able to sit and consider my options and not have to be somewhere or work on something. The 48HFP is done (bar the showing of the film – which I try not to think about because I’m incredibly nervous about it – and tweaking it in our own time); the tri season is done – and I just about managed to take part in it. I have nothing to train for at the moment and no real idea of plans for next year, except solid knowledge that I’m not doing the London Marathon.

This time last year I thought I’d be maybe working on another half ironman or something. Instead, after never making it to the start line, I’m wondering whether I want to commit to training for one again at all or if maybe I should take it easy for a while and stick to smaller races. It seemed important to have a big goal in place, but right now, with work as hectic as hell and a new niece or nephew on the way and my health finally signed off (yep – my thyroid has worked its way back down to normal and now we’re just keeping an eye on it), I kind of just want to enjoy time with family and friends rather than ditch everyone and everything to do a bike ride at 5am.

I think I’m a bit burnt out after a month of chaos. I’m not even reminding myself not to work on things this weekend. There’s stuff I could do, but yesterday nothing was as important or desirable as going for the first long autumn walk with Coffee Monster and our two mutts, and collecting conkers, and taking photos, and teaching the dogs how to pick blackberries (they already know how to pick figs from the fig tree in our driveway* – it didn’t take them long to figure out thorns and blackberries). Then on to the library, have coffee/tea with a friend, go to the cinema and see Rush (one of the best films I’ve seen this year, by the way, and another one that also had me thinking about goals, and ambition, and what next), chill out at home.

I was just trying to take a photo of these when a dog swooped in a stole three of them in a movie-monster blur.
I was just trying to take a photo of these when a dog swooped in and stole three of them in a movie-monster blur.

On Friday night, London pulled its annual ‘run into someone you know’ stunt – in which you, duh, run into someone you haven’t seen for a while in an unlikely place. I love it when that happens. It makes the city feel so much more neighbourly. I once ran into a friend from school on Platform 1 of Victoria underground, and that resulted in an afternoon getting mildly drunk on cider at Borough Market. On Friday it was someone I used to work with (but who swiftly and deservedly moved on to greater things), but hadn’t seen in over a year (and if you at all like films you should check out her film review blog, Beginning Middle End). Then dinner with a couple of friends, which was fun because one of the friends in particular is as ranty as me about representation of women and LGBT folk in pop culture and we both got to get all self-righteous.

Someone reminded me, during the bucket list conversation, that I want to do an open mic night at some point, and instead of feeling sick at the thought as I normally do, I just go ‘Ah, yes, that’d be nice’.  My younger sister just competed in (and WON) her first poetry slam (you should check her stuff out, by the way – it was written for performing), and usually that would spur me on, but nope. Then again, yesterday I spent a substantial part of the afternoon attempting to sing the first three lines of the Happy Days theme tune, and failing dismally to get it right at all (I’m fine from the weekend onwards, but the rest of the week was eluding me), so perhaps that’s a good thing, for the sake of other people’s ears.

Anyway, as I write this particular entry, it is early on Sunday morning and I’m writing from bed. Coffee Monster is asleep next to me; the dogs are lying on my legs, dreaming and twitching, and I’m thinking that maybe I’ll play about on the guitar today and mess with some music. The urgency to get stuff written isn’t there, though, in the way it was a month ago. I just want to pootle around on the strings. I think pootling is the way to go.

*This makes our driveway sound posher than the concrete rubbish dump it is. The fig tree was there when we moved in, and for some reason the combination of basic neglect (me), occasional prunings (Coffee Monster) and outright destruction(dogs/builders) have caused it to flourish.

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