New town

‘I seemed to avoid the hole. For a time. It helped to have moved to a pleasanter place. Being near the sea helped. My so-called inner life seemed less oppressive and boring when I looked out at my new town, when I knew I could walk down the street anytime and see nice white buildings and beautiful women and look out over the sea. But I knew it would get worse and I’d get ill again if I weren’t careful. No doubt there were lots of new things to do and people worth meeting, but they seemed distant, opaque. Easier to avoid the effort and sink into routine. I got up and waited for drinking time. If I had work I worked. Sometimes I tried to stretch out the pre-drinking time by walking or running along the seafront. Sometimes I had to do errands or meet someone. The extra pills I took made me tired, and I’d sleep deeply in the afternoon, which also passed the time. I was calm, numb, comfortable, bored. The sun moved from one end of the sky to the other, the wind picked up and died down. Trees grew and died, mountains eroded, seas flowed and ebbed, planets moved in their orbits. Vast inhuman cycles of activity: nothing to do with me. Inactivity or activity, what did it matter in the end? But it did matter, wasn’t that what I ought to have learned by now? I had to get a foothold in the everyday. I often thought about ways to recover a sense of possibility. And of the constant renewal it seemed to demand, a demand that itself seemed almost inhuman. But there was always a discovery to be made: of what was already there, with or without me, before and after me. Life’s splendour, lying in wait, waiting for no one. Sometimes all it took was a single ordinary act or encounter for it to reveal itself.’

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