30 May 2013

Still staying on

I have been away from the terrace house in Taman Sri Minang for the last couple of days, at a conference in Johor Bahru in the south of Malaysia. The house, I imagine, is still hot and full of noises of settling and the azan coming over the hill, waiting for me. The space is even more empty now.

The taxi took us back from a French bistro and instead of going into the hotel, I walked alone out into the Indian market, past a flower stall and the thick fragrance of incense; throbbing Indian pop then a fat man on a motorbike looking up to watch me. Just a single moment: there and then gone. In this universe, this one universe in the expansive multiverse, I stood on the corner, raised my right hand like I was Malaysian and walked into the street with confidence. In this universe, I know how to stop traffic.

Sometimes things are just what they are. The most pernicious lie I was ever told: you are not all fundamentally okay. You need something else to be okay.

We are, it turns out, all fundamentally okay.

At one point, there will be more days behind me than in front of me and I will need to start getting ready for having my wife and daughters back. Being alone has meant more than being free to have more time to myself: it's given a kind of emotional freedom too. Parents and spouses are constantly giving away emotional energy, but now I am keeping it for myself, relishing it, thinking of who I am, full stop. Not the I in relation to anyone else. I don't like the metaphor of recharging. Instead a moment which embodies it: sitting just now, in Starbucks, waiting for new friends to come and meet me, I didn't have a phone or an iPad or a child or spouse to attend to. It was just me, sat in a chair, watching. Suddenly, I felt a rush of optimism about the future, whatever it may be. I have the energy to go on into whatever future falls out of the system. There's nothing, after all, to worry about.