A year ago, give or take a few days, I was on a plane to San Francisco. Today I’m on a flight to New York, which I never thought would be possible, but here I am. Great stuff can and does happen sometimes, if you work hard enough behind the scenes. I’m also sitting here editing my own first novel on the flight, and beginning to realise just how much has changed since this time last year. It isn’t just to do with my level of fitness either: words have become something better and stronger too. I’m only just beginning to realise this as I go through the process of editing, looking at stuff I’ve written that I thought was brilliant but in reality is anything but.
Sometimes, it isn’t just one part of you that needs to change, it is everything.
The problem, of course, is that that’s often not practical. You cannot easily throw everything away and start from scratch. It takes time and effort to understand the areas that need to be addressed, and what has to happen with each one, and then comes the process of stitching everything back together. Without the coherence of all the parts, your whole simply ceases to function. Where do you even start? For me, attacking my physical limitations has been a start, but I understand I’ve still got a very long way to go. I still find the process of taking off and landing in aeroplanes fairly stressful, for example. I can’t immerse myself in water without immense levels of trauma. Having acquiesced to doing a bike ride next year, I’m already quietly fretting over my levels of ability, especially after watching the two days of sheer terror that was the Olympic Male and Female Road races.
There’s no point I realise now unless stuff scares you.
That’s very true of writing: looking at words and trying to work out whether something is good enough or not becomes quite frightening, after a while, as you’re playing a continual game of second guessing yourself. Especially when fiction is involved, there’s a discomfort whenever you read someone else’s words too, that this becomes an unintended benchmark amongst all the others you find a need to aspire to. There’s an inspirational poster I have somewhere which likes to state ‘You are Enough’ but that’s never going to be totally true when the whole World seems to have a better grasp on reality and stability than you can muster at 37,999 feet. The turbulence never stops, the choice becomes to take the journey or never leave your safe zone, and in the end that is absolutely no way to ever live a life.
Some days, nothing is ever enough unless you try.
The next ten days in a city I will freely admit would be my second home if I could, is full of possibilities I never thought I’d return to experience. The last time I was here, the Twin Towers stood. An awful lot has changed in what will be almost 20 years, not just the fact I’m now part of a family which accepts me for what I am, that sat either side of Mum and held her hands as the plane took off. Being part of a loving whole that allows you the freedom to push your boundaries is not something a lot of people get the chance to experience, and I realise just how lucky I am to have this group of people around me as support.
To take off on new journeys is both frightening and beautiful, and to land with my family in tow on a holiday I never thought I’d have is probably the best 50th birthday present I’m likely to get. I hope I can do the next ten days justice with words, which I intend to try and do here. Here’s to new adventures and expanded horizons.