How do you cope?
I’ve been wanting to write this one for some time, because there have been more than a few activities that have come and gone in my life. The biggest one probably being football – one that I don’t think I ever really got over. Amongst other things it was an activity where I was in a predominantly male environment.
Whenever I sink my teeth into something, I like to do so to the last wisdom tooth. As a result it can get a little intense. I see it in myself even now with all things social media, though perhaps with age and experienced I’m more mellow than in years gone by. Yet social media aside, I ask myself what happened to all of my previous passions. Euro 2012? Euro ’96 this was not. I greeted the penalty misses more with laughter than the utter despair of the tournament that clashed with my GCSEs. (I’m still convinced that football tournaments cost me a grade or three during my school days!)
Just as during the mid 1990s where I’d be playing football every weeknight, so 10 years later I’d be at a dance class of one sort or another. And now? Well…I don’t see social media in the same light – it’s a medium of communication. It’s a bit like someone from the 1930s saying “I’m really passionate about the telephone”. For me it facilitates other stuff rather than being an end in itself.
It’s sort of how I feel at the moment. It’s a mindset thing as much as anything else. Where should a bloke in his early 30s be in life? Not where I currently am. It’s as if since 2008 the headline steps I’ve taken have all been backwards – even though underneath all of that a whole host of them have been anything but: Liberating at the very least.
Having seen and lived in the bright lights of London, everything else is going to be less exciting and vibrant in comparison. That’s not to say the bright lights had substance for me: They didn’t. When I peered round the light bulbs, I was depressed at some of the vacuums I found. I never did find what I was looking for during my time living and working there – and not through the want of trying. Perhaps I tried too hard.
But then part of that journey was just as much finding out what didn’t work for me as much as what did. There were a number of things I stumbled across where I thought: “The concept of this is brilliant – but at the moment it’s not working.” The group music classes at the Mary Ward Centre I went to some four years ago were for me an example of this. The concept of getting adults together to learn new (or old) instruments together to play in ensembles was and is a beautiful one. But it lacked a certain something. Ditto when I tried classes elsewhere.
Can I have the buzz back please?
It’s one of my drivers behind all things Cambridge L!VE. I’m at a stage now where I’ve gone beyond joining a single society and helping building it up as in days gone by. I’ve stumbled across a number of people who have said similar in a work context – i.e. they could go ‘back’ to something they had done before, but it’s precisely because they’ve done it before that they don’t want to go back. Even more so when the vision of doing something far more productive and exciting is there – if only someone would give us the opportunities.
It’s going to take more than blogging and tweeting on my part as I concede in the article linked in the above. Yet for some reason I’m seeing a bigger picture that for whatever reason locally others seem oblivious to (not in the pejorative sense) or see too many obstacles to achieving. The latter could range from things like a lack of time, money, other commitments or a current role/job that prevents them from doing the stuff that I’ve set out.
In terms of the local activities I’ve taken part in or gatherings that I have gone along to, many of them have lacked the energy or vibrancy needed to keep someone with a short attention-span like me engaged. Hence coming to the conclusion after so many visits that the challenge isn’t just with individual people or groups: It’s with the city. That’s not to condemn and walk away from the essential work that a number are doing. Cambridge is my home town. I can’t do that. Hence the desire to get my hands dirty.
Let’s say that in a perfect world the vision of bringing the city together is achieved and we end up with a number of thriving, inclusive, open and active groups and societies across the city. If one of those can introduce me to a new activity to help fill the voids of previous ones, I’ll be more than happy.