As Tori Amos almost said, I never was a coursework girl.
It isn’t so much that I have the big-match temperament, more that I am programmed to thrive with a metaphorical gun at my temple. I managed to garner a reasonably illustrious academic record procrastinating my way through the term in an impressive variety of ways (game of solitaire, anyone?) and then sweating and weeping through a night of pre-exam cramming.
I’d like to say I’d grown out of it, but…the internet.
The internet is doubly the foe of those of us who would never consider doing today what could reasonably be put off until next week.
Firstly, it is nothing more or less than the Whole World And Everyone In It, there, always, just a thumb scroll away. Dangerous, when you’re of the disposition which finds vital import in a tea towel that needs washing or a desk that needs tidying whenever a deadline looms.
Secondly, though, is that beyond the simple potential for distraction however,
*****pause while I check Twitter*****
is the insidious effect that seeing a world of possibility has on the mind which knows that tomorrow is always the first day of the rest of its life.
Don’t get me wrong. I like, as much as the next person, to read about those who’ve started over. Whether it’s a new life in Brazil, a spanking new career, kicking the booze, losing twelve dress sizes, finding God or simply reaching the bottom of the ironing basket, it’s heartening to know that people really do change things. More, that they really do change themselves.
But when I see these changes day-in, day-out; when they’re in blogposts and articles and Facebook memes alongside the ever-open Tesco tab and the daily emails from online retailers, the potential for transformation, for redemption, starts to feel a bit like a commodity. Like it’s available to order, whenever I’m ready; an offer with no expiry date.
Maybe I’d have thrived better in the olden days, with the priest thundering the threat of eternal damnation at me every Sunday and tortured gargoyles underlying the or-else.
Maybe we need some imagery for that secular modern-day equivalent of the soul that dies unshriven; the life that lives unrealised.
It’s very easy to kid myself that I have forever to get around to it all, when every time I see some kind of a miserable “before”, it’s in counterpoint to a “happy ever after” rather than an abrupt full stop.
“Remember, man, as you pass by” my grandad told me he’d seen written in a graveyard in his childhood, “as you are now, so once was I”. Perhaps it was a Cork stonemason’s early attempt at Instagram, but it has an impressiveness, to someone whose childhood was noticeably lacking in graveyards, that goes somewhat beyond that of an inspirational quote set against a sunset.
****some time later****
I wondered about how to finish this, but the usual bathetic attempt at uplift seemed hypocritical at best.
The abrupt full stop seems fitting.