Sunday, October 02, 2005

Choice of life

The choice of life is between a good one and a hard one. The two aren't necessarily different, but in this case... it's better if I explain. A good life means a comfortable life with a decent apartment, a compact Camry, maybe even a motorbike with a top speed of 240kph. It'll mean having a wine collection, something I've wanted for ages, a large library, wonderful cookbooks that are forever open in a large open kitchen that's seperated from the living room by a table. That kind of kitchen, in that kind of house, in that kind of life. You get, monseiur? It is a life of few blemishes. Those are hidden by the comforting touch of finance, that wonderful friend, that first - and last - resort. The only certainty in a world of... you know the rest. Why bother you with that? Of course this will signify a shift. A shift in homes, countries, and the most challenging move of all - in the mind. I suppose it's easy to consider those steps as an unselfish gesture, committed purely for the noble intent of caring for those strangers I've never met but who burden me with the thought of their presence - a young family. You want Yale? No problem. That ring, love? It's yours. How about a month in Turkey, then? Who's up for that?

But it doesn't all flow that way, does it? What I'm worrying for, if you haven't figured it out, is myself. The idea is to be someone, to rise and rise in every way possible. To be among people but to soar. I suppose there's always weed for that but it isn't really my scene. It makes my head spin. It's a life within reach, always tempting, always whispering seductive things to encouraging ears. The way I see it, this is how it works: there's a part, I think it's the brain, that says, "Go on, mate, leave this place, go away somewhere, make a living, be somewhere where the taxes and petrol are cheap, and you don't have to worry about books or wines." And then there's the voice of conscience, the broken voice of the hard life that says, "Money, money, money is all you ever think about and you will be happy but will you be happy knowing that you could have done something but didn't, and instead followed a family into the life of safety and security, where paunches grow behind jingling cash registers while wives stay at home? Will you resist the certainties of money and grudgingly accept the insincerity of life? It's a bitch, mate, I know, and it's also a path of ruin, but it's really worth it. Think about it. When the make a family tree, they'll have a special mention for you: The guy who did it differently. Of course you might just die anonymously in a cardboard box somewhere. And there may be no family tree."

So this is what I'm up against. What's the hard life like? Well, it's a pain, really. Bombay's hard, for instance. Everything's hard. Watching the road look different everyday is hard. The lights going out is hard. The water going out is hard. For some reason I've stopped buying into that 'but there are so many people worse off than you' argument. It's rather pointless, I think. Don't you? The point is, when I'm feeling miserable I'm not thinking about anyone else. It's my personal misery. Dammit, you'd think this is the one thing you'd have to yourself, but no, apparently this needs to be cut up into neat slices and passed around too. Everyone gets a bit.

Where was I? The good life or the hard life. The good life might be hard to take in a different way. Say I take it up, and work at it for 25 years, will I sit back and think 'my god, you oaf, just what were you thinking at 25? Why the, you sod, why the hell didn't you take the hard life?' What makes it harder is when I think of the hard life, I think of Indian women in ethnic skirts. It's like this, and this might be a madness of sorts, but hey, you don't come here to subscribe to sanity do you? Do you? Anyway, it's like this: in my mind, women in ethnic skirts are dusky, wearing bronze necklaces and bracelets from different cultures, they are 'in touch' with themselves, and because they are in touch with themselves, they look beyond money and a fancy toaster. For a few years now I've had a woman in an ethnic skirt on my shoulder where an angel or devil should be. She's my financial and spiritual adviser. Oh don't look like that. Everyone's got one. I'm sure of it.

On the other hand, she could be absolutely wrong. You know, the path with good intentions, and I know where that leads. So it's a funny thing to be caught in. Knowing your options are open but being paralysed by choice. I read somewhere that instant decisions are best not left to the democratic process. It feels that way a bit at the moment. Too many voices, too many choices. I have to make this decision soon. It feels odd to stand at a crossroad.

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