THE THOUSAND YARD WRITER’S STARE
When I was young, I remember thinking that what I wanted, above all, was a life full of adventure.
Where did such notions come from? Blame books of high adventure too numerous to count; a vast number of movies; and a rather extraordinary home life dominated by my very difficult but charismatic mother—who believed that life should always be both interesting and entertaining.
I wasn’t thinking in terms of military adventures, or climbing Mount Everest (I hate heights though admire the courage of the intrepid who defy them). Instead, I craved unusual situations, encounters with fascinating people, involvements in ground-breaking projects, and travel to stimulating locations—all spiced with enough intrigue and danger to keep the adrenalin flowing. I have too much imagination to be physically brave, but if I sense there is a story in a situation—an adventure by definition—I tend to subordinate my fears and thrown caution to the winds. Afterwards, there tends to be a reaction, and I swear I won’t put myself in harm’s way again—but then another crazy situation looms, and I can’t resist. I’m not so much an adrenalin junkie, as curious.
I also thought it would be decidedly pleasant to punctuate such an existence with an active love life—preferably with highly intelligent and sexual women. I have never seen the attraction of bimbos, but I find a good brain combined with wit—and that certain something—immensely appealing.
Needless to say, the pressures of real life initially conspired me to put my ambitions on the back-burner, get a real job, and get married—but eventually my true nature broke through the barriers that guarded my conventional existence—and after that I pretty much lived as I had hoped to, and paid the attendant price of insecurity, and of being something of a social outcast. Where adults are concerned, the world, after all, is primarily structured for married couples—or, at least couples. The intermittently single adventurer is not much catered for.
It is actually better to travel alone if one’s objective is to accumulate experiences to write about. You are totally focused on the task at hand; you are seen as less of a threat; people invite you into their company; you can write as and when you want, and you can go where your instincts dictate.
Do I have regrets I haven’t lived a more stable life and done all the sensible things people should do to provide for themselves in their old age? Well, I have regrets about all sorts of things—normally involving people—but, in all honesty I cannot regret the fundamental choices I have made. Overall, difficult though it has been at times, I have had a fascinating life and have been involved with some truly wonderful women along the way (together with a few who were not so wonderful).
In contrast, subject to some exceptions, I found normal work soul deadening and dull to the point of bringing on madness. In addition, I find I can’t really buy into an economic system which allows a few people to become immensely rich, but squeezes the economic life out of the majority in the most blatant manner. Not only do I believe there has to be a better way, but I have seen it. An economy such as this doesn’t have to ratchet down the earnings of the Middle Class month by month, have nearly 48 million people on food-stamps, have its infrastructure in urgent need of 2.5 trillion dollars worth of repair, be over $16 trillion in debt, and lock up 2.3 million of its citizens. There are better ways to run a nation—and I live in hopes Americans will soon wake up to that fact.
For my part, after the vicissitudes of the last few weeks—I count five serious setbacks in all—I am currently in THOUSAND YARD WRITER’S STARE mode—but before you assume I have hit burnout, appreciate that no small part of that look is searching for the next adventure.
I may be shaken, stirred and shattered—but one recovers—and I am ever curious.
You’ll be able to read all about this in CONFESSIONS OF A BOOK-WRITING MAN.