On The Future

I write my way to the end of term, finishing off the year with a blaze of thoughts that burn themselves through the night, lodged deep in the tinder of my brain. They spark and spit through this week, crackling their way to an ultimatum: the same ultimatum I come to every time this year… what next?

Most years I’ve planned out my summer six months in advance. I’ve scheduled in a summer tour, booked a couple of days at the beach, found some time in December to catch up with most of the people I’ve neglected all year. I roll through the summer and back in to work life balance in February without taking too much stock. I might pause briefly for New Years Eve, spend a day or two examining the year in retrospect, but for the most part I just keep rolling. Days stack on days and the weeks disappear and suddenly its 2019 when the last real thing I remember doing was back in 2010.

This year has been different. I’ll save you a million thoughts of COVID and this year that has been. That’s been hashed to death, eviscerated by a thousand internet commentators and indeed every single conversation I’ve been in for the last nine months. I’ve done my time thinking of the past. It’s time to think of the future, and the future in this year is looking… weird. unpredictable. unexplainable.

In one fell swoop more than fifty percent of the stuff I’ve built my life on has been wiped out. I can get back to it, easily. I can find it in me to book shows and build tours and hit drums and follow that audience buzz around the country. But do I want to do that?

I don’t know. I genuinely don’t know.

I was having this conversation with a good friend yesterday, about how the future has fallen apart. Like soggy handfuls of cardboard it has started to pull apart and suddenly we’re gazing through it in to the void beyond and there’s… nothing there. It’s kinda just a never ending void. Without the scaffold of a day to day life and future plans and hopes and dreams, this whole thing comes falling down like a house of cards.

I’ve made a pretty good go at holding it together. I’ve managed to cling on by my fingernails until the last final dying moments (after all we’ve made it to a vaccine and the supposed end of the Trump presidency and the finagling of an adequate sourdough bagel), and then in the second where the plane was landing and all seemed safe and sound, the runway disappeared and the plane disappeared and the earth itself disappeared and suddenly its just me floating in the vast expanse of the greater atmosphere wondering where Icarus wing’s went and which way is up.

It’s an odd feeling. And something echoed in many of the people I’ve talked to recently. Now that we know the future lacks certainty and the plans we laid out can be snapped away at moment’s notice, its hard to trust the universe again.

Suffice it to say that The Secret no longer works. Or if it works, it now comes with some limitations: I can manifest myself a sandwich and manifest myself a day at the beach, but can I manifest myself a desire to pack all my gear into the car and drive to a venue in the middle of nowhere to play for no-one?

Don’t worry. This isn’t me giving up on music. It’s just me grappling with what the future of my art looks like. I’ve basically written a new album’s worth of songs. I’ve started work on a novel (ok… what?). And I’ve thrown myself heavily in to cooking curries. I just need to find the vital motivation to pull all these things together in to… something. And then push that something out to the wider world again.

This week sees the return of Phoebe Lindner, and our version of a Gillian Welch song. This is FWF Ep. 14. I’m planning on finishing out the year with this series and then probably taking a break in January to do something else for a bit. So enjoy these last couple!

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