What I have not been able to convey, in these stealthy notes between the lines, between 1am dinners and sleepy bike rides to work, is how very rich, dense and textured life is right now. If I have no time to be shallow on Twitter (bleargh) or write about my feet or comment on current affairs, it’s clearly because I haven’t had time to do my washing, cut my toenails or buy another bookshelf to shelf the book overflow which is making the house look a bit too much like a bookshop. All true.
But, and the sheer density of it all hasn’t allowed me to express myself properly here, what can, under a certain light, look like a case of either mindless mania or self-inflicted fatigue (a mental illness if there ever was one), is more of a long dessert. Between three very different jobs that I love all, each one of them teaching me very different things, return to university and all the attached little activities, and the time I have been making to relearn the fine habit of incident-pursuit, the learning curve has never been steeper. I go from one mind-blowing lecture to another exciting conversation, from reading gorgeous journalism to writing words I didn’t know the meaning of earlier that week. I keep putting things aside to indulge in one more neverending coffee, dinner or rooftop sandwich, and the notebook I bought to keep scattered thoughts less scattered is bulging. I take notes while these dinners are cooked and elegant coffees drunk, so rich and rewarding are these dialogues. I am writing down turns of phrase; conclusions about psychology; and reading and viewing recommendations, not to mention practical solutions to practical concerns. I keep hugging people on the street and – damn – our square 10km has most of the most beautiful people in this country – I am convinced.
The last time life was so varied and grand I was 18, and it was signalling the end of something. I cannot quite see the end just yet: it would need to be a beginning of something rather luxurious for the change to be welcomed. Meanwhile, I have a pile of writings on Jonathan Franzen, all red-pocked and circled and underlined and boxed; I have mastered geomorphology and get an energy kick twice a week, when I trace maps, use a stereoscope, and learn about types of rock; Brecht is finally making sense, and the world is made anews; I write and read, finally managing to read more than I write. Meanwhile, my new computer is waiting for the OS to be reinstalled, before I can upload bookmarks, software and music, and I cannot find the time. Money, touch wood, is coming in on multiple sides and I have no time to sort my invoices, let alone spend it well. Who needs money when the best things in life are all free and occurring simultaneously? (By which I mean, I suppose, knowledge, people, love, art and sunshine.)
The bit that was missing, for a while, was rest. J-friend wondered, recently, whether I was exhausting myself as a guilt backblow. No, I said, it was just hunger for everything I had missed while life was on hold. On the weekend, having made gnocchi for an impromptu lunch for a few friends who live in the neighbourhood, once alone I curled up on the couch with Hedda (Gabler) and Frederic (Chopin), promptly fell asleep and woke up at 9, dazed. Ibsen’s play is phenomenal, but it was great to remember why I had such a consistently good opinion of Chopin. But the protagonist of the tale is this luxurious rest which, in the middle of luxurious work of all kinds, is that little bit that I’ve finally found, the little bit that was missing.
I will be back in Sydney soon. (I saw a picture book about the Bondi tram in the library today. The sheer gorgeousness of the illustrations gave me microshivers. I thought, perhaps crassly, what a beautiful city, and how wasted on its people. Perhaps such stunning scenery pushes the population into deliberately shallow insensitivity simply because aesthetic profundity couldn’t cope with the beauty. Ahh, yes I generalize, but what thought isn’t…?) I cannot wait.