Back when I was in the midst of All the Things, my bff sent me a card with a quote from Fay Weldon. “Nothing happens, and nothing happens, and then everything happens.” I loved that card fiercely. Not just because of the love it came loaded with, but also because of the sense of relief which overwhelmed me when I read it – that marvellous thing that happens when you read the very right words at the very right time and you realise it’s all right, I’m not the only one has felt this way.
So much got squeezed into the final years of my thirties and the first few years of my forties, that every now and then my mind stops whatever else it is doing and just thinks, ‘it’s not like that any more.’ And it still takes me by surprise. I’m not that person anymore.
The circularity of things is almost missing from that quote, but not quite. It does promise that nothing happens and that times of nothing will happen again. But it doesn’t say, “and then nothing comes back again.”
Nothing much is happening these days. Time has knocked the edges off my grief. I’ve made peace with infertility. My grandfather passed away, and I miss him, but he was 97 and he was a man of deep faith who absolutely believed his time had come. The lads are adolescenting and that is not without its challenges, but as far as I can tell all I can really do for them is be steady as a rock while all else around them shifts and changes and at this stage I reckon I can do that. I am still probably the most ill-suited to expat life that a person could be, but I can find my way from Abu Dhabi A to Abu Dhabi B and even if I do get lost it doesn’t make me burst into tears and ring the mister no matter where he is in the world and say, ‘I just want to go home.’ My novel has finally found a shape and form and a bunch of words that will work. It’s a long way from being finished, even further from being published but it’s way better than the first one and I’ve got a clarity of purpose which I have never felt before and that is most satisfying.
It’s seductive though, this nothing. I want to sink ever deeper into it. I don’t want to disrupt it, I don’t want everything to happen. I suppose it’s fairly easy to join the dots from nothing happens to the clarity of purpose I have found in my writing work. I know some people find tumultuous times to be productive. For some people depression and anxiety are artistic fuel. But I’m not one of them. Everything made me a better person, that’s true. I’m more compassionate, more rounded, more all sorts of things. But I don’t want to repeat those times.
It’s nice to be seduced that’s for sure. But the line between flirtation and danger is thin. I feel myself increasingly unwilling to push myself or to take risks. I worry that I used my quota of courage. That if the opportunity came to stand in a board election or to try stand up, I would let that opportunity pass me by. I wouldn’t look for opportunities. And then I tell myself off. I say, Self you have really excelled yourself in over-thinking today. Nothing is good.