Two summers ago, I lived in a small apartment on North Audley Street while on a consulting project. I was also trying to write. I couldn’t seem to make the writing happen, and I never missed the chance to feel ashamed and angry about it.
Instead, I worked on the other project, and wandered the city looking at trees. I made friends with the man who would become DCI Khan, and also the man who would become David. What I didn’t realize at the time was that, even though I wasn’t putting words on the page, I was writing. I was writing what would become In the Twisted Web.
Samuel Johnson famously said, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” That phrase played around the edges of my imagination. I swatted it away like an insect. Tired of life is against my religion.
On my last morning in London, I walked down to Shepherd’s Market in the rain and had breakfast in a tired diner. I sat next to a lovely older couple, and their joy in one another made me feel all the more alone.
The driver of the car that took me to the airport had good taste in music, and he played Schoenberg’s Pelleas und Melisdande, Opus 5. As London’s green parks and tidy white facades rolled by and the music filled the car, I acknowledged, finally, that I was tired of life.
As I was reading the David Brook’s insightful writing about Samuel Johnson last night before bed, I came across that phrase again. It didn’t sting this time. Somewhere along the way I’ve stopped being tired of life.
I’m still rather bad at it, of course, and I’m often disappointed in myself. I don’t work hard enough or I don’t know when to stop working when I start.
But in the process of making those books, I somehow renewed my pleasure in living.
Where are you in this cycle? What is bringing you joy, or bringing you down? (And please remember, as I did in my one success, down is always temporary.)
Photo by Oleg Oprisco