Matt Dorey

A bird is sitting on the grass with a kite

The State of Play

I’m back from South America. It’s early but the reasons for coming home outweighed the reasons for staying on. I’ll write about all that stuff in another post later on. Now that I’m back I’m addressing the mess I’d made of my life before I left. Well “mess” is a harsh way to put it but I have not made it easy for myself! I left a stable flat to go away and gave no real thought to what sort of job I wanted when I got back.

My time in South America has made me more confident in myself. I think I surprised people by declaring myself a failure. While I was away I made peace with some of the past, in that I know better what the good and bad points were. Now I don’t feel constrained: I’d happily go back to what I did before because (modulo some small issues) I was doing that job well. This realisation is liberating for the job hunt because I no longer feel I have to explain why I left in defensive terms – I can just say I was ready to move on and that I needed a rest. If you contrast this with my earlier thoughts, there’s a marked difference in my thinking now.

While I was away I also realised that my job was not the only thing that was making me unhappy. I also need to address some events and relationships from my past and from within my family. I’ve not been able to make much progress with this yet. I am staying with my parents (just allow me to recite a short Philip Larkin poem for you!) and I don’t want them to feel that an unhappiness about the past consists of dissatisfaction with them as parents. Sometimes stuff happens despite best intentions. I still don’t know exactly what the problems are (or if I ever will) but I know that it needs work; and that I have to get a job and out from under my parents’ feet before I can properly begin.

Nevertheless I have started to seek some answers, just some clues as to what might be bugging me. I devoured “The Examined Life” by Stephen Grosz in the past two days. It’s an excellent book about psychoanalysis (or rather case studies of patients on whom psychoanalytic techniques were used) that has long been on my wish list. I think psychoanalysis is one of the breakthroughs of the twentieth century, though I appreciate that there are a lot of other contenders like penicillin, computers, and so on. Surely in proposing a framework for talking through psychological problems Jung and Freud managed to create tools that have released people from suffering and will continue to do so. In a similar vein a friend has also recommended “Change For The Better” by Elizabeth McCormack, so that also goes on the reading list. Next up though is to finish off Michel Faber’s “Under The Skin”, the novel that forms the basis of Jonathan Glazer’s new film of the same name starring Scarlett Johansen. (Also being finished off in brainier moments is “The Signal and The Noise”, Nate Silver’s pean to proper modelling and partly responsible for my reconciling myself to continuing my modelling career.)

Meanwhile, in between pinging off my CV and going for windy walks, I am trying to brush up on my programming skills — mostly getting to grips with OOP properly so that I can legitimately call myself a C++ programmer. However I also want to freshen up my skills in F#, C#, and Ruby because a job programming those particular languages would be fun.

Of course I also want to continue writing up the South American adventure. The way I have it planned out there will be a total of 24 parts (of which eight are already written). I sketched out part nine the other day. I selected a total of eighteen photos to accompany the text and if I maintain the same ratio of words to pictures as before, part nine will be an epic. I guess that is befitting of the Inca trail. As it was, part eight was already one of the top five longest posts I’ve ever written on this blog so I expect part nine will be up there too. Because none of my time is really free time at the moment I don’t really feel comfortable about using any of it for writing for pleasure. Once I get everything prioritized perhaps I will be able to write the posts about South America regularly. Don’t be surprised if other non-travel posts pop up like they used to do before I left, I’m trying to get back to normal after all!

Hero image is a remix of “roads and railways series no.4” by woodleywonderworks on flickr. I cropped the original to 16:9 and then applied Analog‘s Lomia filter.

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