Monday, June 3, 2013

All Fired Up

While it seems that some of the scariest things of these last months aren’t going away, it does seem that I’ve stumbled on a patch of relative calm and creativity. I had a major breakthrough on some horribly overdue research that I’m now assembling and then writing up, and if this holds for me then getting all my Honours work done by October is manageable. For the first time in months I am not consumed by blinding panic every time I think of all the work I have to do. I’m actually excited by the prospect of my work for the first time in ages, and I’m fighting my head well enough to get some shit done.

It’s a strange thing, getting something of your real self back after months of being so disconnected. While it’s not a terribly original analogy, it really is rather like the lights coming on inside your head. It’s thrilling, cracking something so resolutely and steadfastly infuriating as the work that’s been in front of me for months. I also like that I’ve been able to speak with people this last week or so and actually be able to play along and pass for a normal human being.

I was feeling well enough that I could run away to Canberra for the weekend just gone, a long arranged trip for a concert by one of my favourite Australian bands. I have lived with their music for more than fourteen years, and listening to these guys and seeing them live are memories of my teens that I don’t completely hate. It’s not simply nostalgia – they’re still releasing outstanding music – and I was looking forward to seeing them in a venue I haven’t been to before. I know most of the Sydney live music venues like the back of my hand and am a little bored with them, so the intimate microbrewery with great sound was a lovely surprise for this passionate gig goer, even if we were all dying of the heat by the end of the night (this sounds especially ridiculous given that we were on the very cusp of winter that night in Canberra, of all places). My friends and I got there after splitting some amazing dumplings and some even better beer, and for a few hours it really felt like someone else’s life. We were laughing and chatting and the Moz who’s in and out of hospital managed to stay in her cage for the night. One of the joys of live music is that it always wakes me up, and so it was on Friday night. I was present, and having a good time.

We stood and drank and tried to carry on a conversation despite the noise, waiting for the band to come onstage. The slightly older crowd, who would have been in their twenties when this band was at their peak, swayed and made out with one another, and I smiled, hoping that some of these couples had, in fact, gotten together all the way back when. Then there they were, and after a few songs I looked around, almost expecting to see my younger, thinner self, just singing along. But instead I saw my friends, who I love so much, and who welcome me into their home when I come to town. I looked back at the singer, wailing about time travel and times past, and it suddenly hit me that I’m so busy looking back and trying to work out my own past that I’m missing what’s in front of me right now.

This is probably self-evident to everyone but me. It makes complete sense that I study history; I'm certainly obsessed with my own past and what went wrong and what passed me by. Now I am missing what’s in front of me, and the truth is that even though a lot of the time I’m paralysed by my illness, I am doing my Honours work. I am doing exactly what I’m meant to be doing right now, at a university I love, and I am free. This work isn’t a burden, or something that someone else is demanding of me. It is my choice, and I am good at this. It’s research and it’s writing, and there’s creativity and imagination required of me in what I do. This is my vocation, and this time and place is mine.

So while I’m chained to a hospital bed more often than I would like, I am privileged enough to mostly do what keeps me alive and feeds my soul. I am doing what I love, and that sets me free. 


  1. Glad you had a wonderful time in Canberra!
    Love the last part, that's so true, we, more often than necessary, live in the past or even in the future, not seeing what's right in front of us, the present. Enjoy the work you love, it's yours and only yours. xxx

  2. Crap... I've got a lot of catching up to do on your blog! I'm lost without Google reader!

    So glad you had a sweet time in Canberra and that things are cracking along now with your work. I know that feeling of panic and dread all too well. Keep those fires burning!


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