What challenges lie ahead in 2014? How might you meet them boldly?
Cambridge. Cambridge is one hell of a challenge.
My goodness, I’m scared of Cambridge. Or, rather, I’m scared of everything I mean by Cambridge. April, or maybe May, 2014: moving house. Starting all over again.
No, actually, what scares me is the idea that moving to Cambridge is going to be just like moving to Guildford was, back in 2007. That I will not know anybody except Tony who will not have time to see me and that I will take years to make friends and that I will feel as if everybody knows that I am a fraud and Do Not Belong There.
That is a reasonable thing to be scared of, because at least the first year in Guildford was pretty grim. It is also an unreasonable thing, because none of that is true any more.
I will be living with Tony. I have at least three university friends in Cambridge, an uncle in Ely, a cousin in Bury St Edmunds, not to mention all the AFPeople who really count as Tony’s friends but who are lovely. I am much better at making friends now than I was then. I will actually notice if I get depression again, because I know what to look for now. And, just as not everybody in Guildford is a millionaire three times over, not everybody in Cambridge will have three degrees.
It is still a challenge. It is probably going to be much more of a challenge than my recent change of job has been, because a lot more is changing. I’m not starting from scratch, but I’m still starting. And we will be moving back in together, and will no doubt both prove to have picked up some foul bachelor habits in the intervening six months, and will have to get over all that.
I am allowed to be scared. I am allowed to be sad.
There was an art exhibition at my church recently, a selection of abstract paintings by a painter priest called Robert Wright. The titles were all, I believe, quotations from Thomas Merton. I was particularly struck by one entitled go bravely on. I liked the echo of to boldly go, and the painting itself was all red and gold and black and white, arrowheads and circles, which felt, yes, very sci-fi. Had I been feeling rather richer and less timid, I might have bought it; as it was, I have carried the title around with me ever since, and turned it over in my pocket when I had difficult decisions to make, and I think it needs to come with me for at least a while longer:
go bravely on
I will wear my cockle shell. I will remember that I am a pilgrim. I will move forwards to keep my balance. I will go bravely on.