Working at a call centre, you come to realise just how terrible a trade is money and things for a daily grin. Satisfaction reworked to size six Arial and more mouse clicks than the other guy, eyes glaze, days fade and nights drag, leaving a blackness you can’t scratch off. Knowing, down to the minute, when that tiny bit of sunlight will creep through, the thought of heading back to choke mouthfuls of stale air and stare at a screen for eight hours can be nigh on crippling. It’s here that having someone to share in everything becomes invaluable.
Save for a few high school mates, the first time I saw music placed on a pedestal that it damn near punctured the clouds was by someone I found working at that same misery lab. Having realised we were surfing the same deep blue, eyes glinted, souls reignited and tunnels of dread turned two-man forums, a shared excitement encouraging yammerings on storytelling, the underappreciated art of screaming, and Rap City Saturday – a stint of genre appreciation where old and new weaved together in a soliloquy of weekend poetry. Camaraderie forged in the onslaught of scowls from those less than chuffed with our unholy union of UK garage and French metal, music bore the fibres of a friendship – two twentysomethings looking for answers in something that held more understanding than any self-help book. Last year, that same friend took his life. I’ll never know why.
It’s hard not to scream when this keeps happening and harder still to suck it up and not barrel off into the night. The last few years have had me a stern lesson in sticking to the well-lit – no matter how inviting the dark, there’s always that chance you won’t come back. Also come to light has been an unhealthy belief in the infallibility of music and the people who hold it highest. Noise being the elixir of life, accepting that so too are the joy bringers full of holes remains a tough pill to swallow, but one necessary to keep on.
Yeah, life isn’t always great. In fact, it’s pretty bloody trying at best. The ‘why’ of feeling shitty sometimes impossible to nail down, continuing can become a cruel joke, making it hard to pull the veil from what, at the time, appears to be a crushing permanence. Preconceptions become teetering slips and crippling inadequacy coupled with yet another stretch of blank fantasy has it easy for us to beg why we’re even still knocking about. This barbarous mindset slashing the tyres on any from of escape, you don’t really get better, you get crafty, and find ways to live around it.
Music has always been that co-pilot and constant, steering the ship when I’m unable to. It’s the mate that stays up until the wee hours, calling for reason when a scattered loneliness and incessant hum of a laptop threatens to tip things too far. An invisible choir, screaming louder than my brain’s unhelpful watercooler pitch for idealism, if things aren’t quite there one weekend, it’s a good discography that brings solace and justifies my spending an entire day indoors. Twenty-seven years and this medium has helped in more ways than I can possibly define, bringing joy when there was none, empathy through pain and disappointment, and a constructive humility.
Why then these decisions to leave?
Countless failed attempts have had me realise that bringing something creative into the world takes guts – courage beyond words. With every work, part of you goes up for auction, bringing, in stead, a deep vulnerability. Creation is consequence of all we feel needs to exist, so stripping things back to bones can beg some pretty difficult questions – perhaps those we hadn’t thought on before or simply chose not to.
In the end, I don’t have my answer and I never will. People’s paths are no one’s business and I don’t begrudge them that left at the fork. When sadness seeps, all we can do is be patient, with ourselves as much as others. ‘Blind with kindness’ has been a mantra since I stepped back from my own ledge and the last twelve months has taught me something else: kindness is as much being there as being kind.
Go easy, friends.