BACK STORY

Odd day yesterday.

Poetry of all things.

SACRED MOMENT didn’t just happen.

I started off with my mind a bit of a blank. Not unusual I can hear family and friends saying. In this case however, I mean specifically with regard to writing and creativity. That ‘lots of time’ I was talking about in an earlier post on the opportunities of social distancing evaporated almost before it materialised.

I confess to being something of a master of procrastination (perhaps even a doctor?) at the best of times. If there is an email to check or cat to feed I seem to be able to justify that action before reading my way into whatever it is I am supposed to be writing. Add in the additional demands of children at home and worry about my wife, who has just returned to work in the NHS after a period of precautionary isolation, and carving out time to spark and develop and write down ideas has felt almost impossible.

As a result I felt, as we all have no doubt, that the routines and norms of life were shaken loose, and I remembered another time when my routines and expectations were dissolved.

It wasn’t a time of great worry or threat as now. It was prompted by an entirely expected and joyous event, something I had been working towards for three or five or sixteen years depending when you count the first step on the road to graduation from University.

I had finished University, attained my degree and the rest of my life was before me. I had a law degree and there was a clear map laid out. I had a place at Law College for my Part II Law Society exams waiting for me in August, possible Articles (the apprenticeship phase in those days) arranged, membership of the Law Society, practice, marriage, children, house ownership, respectability and fulfilment, satisfaction.

All very desirable of course, and I was very grateful for the experience and qualification university had given me, but I had the words of George Bernard Shaw niggling in my ear: ‘Satisfaction is death’.  Having my whole life mapped out at 21 was overwhelming

It was an unlikely place for an epiphany. In Cardiff, North Road leads from the city centre passing Castell Coch to Pontypridd, and thence to Merthyr Tydfil, and the Brecon Beacons. Well before that, it crosses the A48(M), known at that point as Western Avenue, the main road to Gloucester and London before the M4 usurped its role, and now joining the M4 to continue fulfilling that function

The planners who created the three level intersection, decided not to waste the interior space and built a small wooded park, no doubt an unsafe space now, and probably not much better then. But it gave an unprecedented sense of connection, of all avenues (not just Western!) being open. Suddenly the well mapped path looked to be, if not a dead end, one that constrained and bound the traveller into a conduit. You were on rails and there were few junctions.

I’d already been talked out of sidesteps into being a PE teacher (really a way of getting paid to play rugby) or joining the Royal Marines (well trying to, at least) but I was now left knowing more what I did not want to do, than knowing what I did.

The epiphany under North Road left me feeling connected to an unknown and unfathomable future, and to more than just possibilities; to ALL possibilities.

I was temporarily persuaded to continue with the delineated path for a while but I had to shrug it off. There were false starts and wrong turnings but they were all part of an unmapped  way that gave excitement and interest as well as frustration and heartache.

So although I know how it ends, there are ways yet to discover.

When I started to record that experience yesterday, it became clear there was a tighter, better way of conveying the emotion lurking within and so I began to cut and pare and shape.

The result felt truer, more condensed  and more than a simple story of a callow youth sitting on a bench wondering about the future his degree had opened up. It felt more at the time. It didn’t feel prosaic, and to be honest, it still doesn’t.

Satisfied?

No.

Happy with the journey?

Very.

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