In a liminal state of mind

Anna, a white woman with rainbow hair, wearing a lilac FFP2 mask, with grey headphones round her neck, trying on a pair of green-framed glasses at the optician

Vianne Rocher, in Joanne Harris’s magical-realist novel Chocolat, is fated never to settle for long in one place, always moving on with her daughter (and her mother’s ashes) when the North Wind tells her it’s time to go. That seemingly inevitable pull of a new beginning is something I can relate to all too easily. For all that my Autistic brain craves consistency and familiarity, when it comes to so-called ‘special interests’ (of which I have many), my otherwise neurodivergent brain – the ADHD-ish side – won’t let me enjoy one for too long. And I often have grand ambitions for projects I’d like to do relating to my different interests, but these inevitably fall by the wayside as the wind changes.

I suspect I’m transitioning between interests at the moment. Last year, songwriting kept me going for a long time, particularly while I had someone to collaborate with, so that I didn’t need to self-motivate entirely. But with the end of that collaboration, my brain lost interest in music (for the time being), and another of my recurring interests, railway signalling, took over unexpectedly, this time with an intensity I hadn’t experienced before – and it even got me reading books again after a few years of not being able to do that. I had (and still have) an idea for a project involving 3D animation (and real-life video) in relation to this (and I started learning Blender recently as part of that).

But last week, I realised that I had slowed down in my reading, and wasn’t quite as enthusiastic as I had been about this mammoth undertaking. And then this week I watched some videos from Apple’s WWDC, a conference for software developers. And, alongside a big piece of software for professionals that I’ll almost certainly never write (but have written some notes for), I began to think about a smaller app that I could conceivably write in a realistic amount of time – if I can bring myself to focus on it and nothing else, and if I can overcome my lack of confidence in my abilities, and if my home environment can be made conducive to such concentrated effort.

Right now though, I don’t know for sure if that’s where I’m headed. And I know that I’ve had a thousand ideas for projects that have never so much as got off the ground, so why should this – or the signalling thing – be any different? Long-term projects tend to burn me out too (yes, I’m looking at you, PhD attempts). That puts me off. As does all the ruminating about what happens further down the line (when I haven’t even started).

I’m in a liminal state of mind at the moment, with a changing wind. And like Vianne’s daughter, Anouk, I really don’t like it. I’d go so far as to say it makes me physically ill being stuck in these doldrums while I wait for a renewed passion (or at least a gentle breeze) to propel me in some direction or another.