In my early and mid-twenties, I used to get very depressed around this time of year.
Every twelve months as the silly season rumbles past, it reminds you of all the things you wanted to do during the past year but didn’t. For me, I suspect it was that six-week gap jammed in between the New Year and my birthday where I was forced to dwell on the passing of my two key annual milestones that flew a flag of defeat or frustration over my goals for yet another year.
Inevitably I’ve always set myself targets as a writer, only to allow myself to be distracted by a new computer game, a new film, a new book, a new CD, a new anything, that might keep me from having to write for a little while longer. Then of course another Christmas would come along and I’d realise that yet again, I’d not reached any of those writing goals I set myself a year ago. As an example, I’ve been planning to put an entry in for the Vogel award since I was nineteen. Still haven’t got there yet, and I can’t see my thirteenth effort yielding results.
It’s not that I hate writing. I love it. But writing isn’t easy. Writing well, that is. Writing something engaging—that’s fucking hard, and anyone who says it’s easy is full of shit.
Sometimes I feel myself in the zone, and I’ll write so quickly I’ll drop punctuation, or sometimes entire words, because the ideas are flowing so fast and free my fingers can’t keep up with my brain, and I don’t have time to check what I’ve written until I’ve finished writing. Often, though, I’ll write pages and pages and then delete them and half a dozen of those I’d written prior in a fit of frustrated anger at my inability to write something I consider worthwhile.
For some reason, this feeling of woe slipped away during my late twenties. I’m not sure why—maybe I distracted myself so well from my writing I was no longer setting myself writing targets to miss and get depressed about. This year though, that depression has crept back a little.
The past few weeks have given rise to a lot of post-Christmas analysis of where I am at present. When I returned here from visiting my family I wanted nothing more than to turn around and go back. There were a myriad of reasons I’d thought could be attributed to that feeling, but none of them quite held for me. It wasn’t the house I have had to return to here in Canberra, or the relentless job to which there seems no end. Not even the persistent heat of Australia’s semi-interior, lacking the cooling breath of a sea breeze in the evening, that I wanted to flee, but rather the stagnated pool my life seems to be floating in right now.
I’ve realised I’m not simply wanting to go back to where my family are, but back in time to where my family were. The past several years have seen some big changes in my family—my parents sold their farm and became semi-retired; my sister returned from overseas and settled down to become a home owner with her partner. It felt like it was going to settle down again, but then my sister got pregnant and suddenly I found myself moving up here.
This year’s silly season has had me suddenly longing to go back a decade or two to when I was little; and I could count on my parents, my sister and my brother all being there in the house on the farm being the family we were back then. I’m finding myself wanting to wind back the clock for a time, where I can wrap myself in the comfort of a memory and pretend, just for a little while, that my life still has some of that kind of certainty to it.
I don’t want to be thrust forward into the future, even though I know there is nothing I can do to avoid it.