No doubt, having trophy wives, fancy cars, and other cliché trappings of midlife crises are not themselves what aging sufferers seek so much as seeing themselves with the wives and the cars; discovering what they themselves are like under these new and different circumstances; finding out at last, in this big, endlessly mystifying world, who they are. By shaking things up and seeing what remains in place, we hope to discover what in us is permanent, and what we’ve merely never bothered to toss away. If that is the real question, maybe I found part of the answer as a small boy. In a moment when the world around me suddenly seemed as scary, crazy, and unpredictable as any movie, as ill-intentioned as any conspiracy, as unfathomable as any dream, I went running toward my family, and I wanted to describe what I’d seen. At the moment when a long-standing mystery was introduced, a small area of darkness turned to light.
Today’s needull talks about writer’s experience of working in London, mostly in menial jobs. Perspectives change over time. What seemed like a decent adventure in the past might seem like a waste of time later.
With the global options thus multiplying, the prospect of living in a tiny face-brick room on the fringe of a gray city, catching three modes of transport each day in order to work in admin, stopped sounding like the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity it once had, and began sounding like the dullest life on earth. In some respects the whole year resembles a sublime exercise in irony: that my grand adventure should have been eating ready meals from Tesco and working nine to six, which is almost the quintessential version of an adventureless life that you would want to escape from. But within even the dullest life, and perhaps especially those, an abundance of lessons. “Anything can happen,” Houellebecq warns us in Whatever, “especially nothing.” And lo: the thing that happens most often is that you get some middling job and you do it, and you will yourself to fall in love here and there and nothing comes of it. It was in 2004 that I developed my love for bathos.