Thursday, 13 November 2008

On Figuring and Finding

Since I arrived in London, I have made an almost-daily pilgrimage to a Starbucks near Victoria Station. It is at Starbucks that I generally work on my blog entries, surf the internet and indulge in my coffee addiction. It has also been at Starbucks that I have pondered by predicaments and future. In that time, I have seen the same man, who apparently does the same thing that I do. Except that he is doing formal work, and I’m just d*cking around. Tonight, after nearly 6 weeks, he finally smiled at me – one of those knowing smiles of mutual understanding. We both come here for the same reason – there are people here, and it fills the void of loneliness. If this experience has taught me anything, the lesson is centered around familiarity. Familiarity is important and comfortable. Home is familiar, and highly comfortable and an easy solution to overcome the uncertainty.

An interesting thing happened to me today. I went to Greenwich to seek out the Prime Meridian. Yes, I realize that you don’t actually “seek out” an invisible line. There is no bump on the ground, and nobody has carved a trench to indicate its existence. Due to the rain, I only ventured as far as Greenwich Park. Looking at the map, I found the point at which I perceived the line to run through, and trudged over to it. Anyone who is interested in science, geography, geology, etc is interested in these invisible lines. I’m pretty sure I got there, and yet I don’t really care if I did. At some point today, I know I crossed the mark from which time is based. Basically, when you run out of things to see in London, you see the things that are out of the way – and that is why I went to Greenwich. I have seen Big Ben and the Parliament buildings more than I wish (they were on my nightly workout circuit), and Buckingham Palace, Leicester Square, etc become a bit repetitive.

While in Greenwich I was struck by the loneliness that has been overcoming me for the past 5 weeks. Nobody to share the experience with, nobody to talk with – it becomes disheartening. I started to worry about the future, my education, money (ok, mainly debt), and relationships. How can I make everything work? How will I overcome this? Questions without answers. I keep arriving back at this thought – I do not want to leave England. Needless to say, by the time I left Greenwich I was fairly depressed, and nearly in tears (I still haven’t developed the British “Stiff Upper Lip” and doubt I ever will!). Having to cross through unfamiliar territory in London took me out of my zone of familiarity.

What is interesting about this? As soon as I arrived back at Victoria Station and in Pimlico, I was relaxed again. I was back to my familiar point. The uncertainty had disappeared, and I knew where I was. Suddenly I was back to thinking positively about the future, and remembering the necessity to live one day at a time. And that is when it hit me – I can make this work. If I could commit to actually renting a flat, get a bed of my own to sleep in, and have somewhere to unpack, I could do this. The problem is committing to commitment, and I have issues with that.

I have previously talked about the necessity of living one day at time. Unfortunately I stopped doing that – I kept returning to long-term scales of time. That makes time a cumbersome issue, and that is what eventually leads me to crack. I want all of the solutions now, not a month from now. I don’t now how I will make my education prospects work, nor do I know how I am going to repay my debt, nor do I know how I’m going to make things work in terms of relationships. But time will tell, won’t it? Nothing can be solved or undone overnight, and I keep forgetting that. What happens when I go home? I have a thesis to finish – that is my first priority. I have to apply to graduate school – the second priority. I need to rediscover what pulled me into teaching, and then take the contract that will give me my future. I need to face the reality that without teaching, I don’t have much of a future. I need to deal with the issues I have committing to life, and then deal with the feelings that keep pulling me home. Going home to an economically and employment deprived city does not solve my problems – in fact, it increases my problems tenfold. I need to overcome my necessity for comfort, and convenience and become the person I am. I need to bank money and pay down some bills.

A few days ago I spoke with a Canadian teacher who has been here for over a year. I asked her when she is returning home; she said “I’m going home at Christmas – sometimes you just need to go back for a bit.” And that is the truth – find your way here, but home is always home, and you can always go back for a visit.

What does all of this mean? I will be back. Am I crazy to try again? Probably. Some might even say I need some sort of counselling, and they would be right. But it has taken me ten years to get through university, and get it right – I will keep trying this until I get it right. Banbury left me scrambling for answers; London has left me with realization. Right now I need to go home and finish what it is I started, and answer the questions that I have had on my mind for the past several years – that is the only way I will ever be able to finish or conquer this.

Oh and as for Greenwich – really liked it. It was nice to do something moderately touristy for an afternoon. It was quiet and quaint, and I was momentarily able to forget the hustle and bustle of Central London. The park was a nice break from the over populated parks that I have wandering through for the past several weeks. Now if only they could fix that whole rain problem…

But really, the point to this – I will be back. Just be patient and so will I.

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