When I was six, I wanted to be an elevator operator. There was excitement in buttons, sending cabled box to basement and roof.
(I graduated to escalators, hitting the emergency stop in Debenhams, pushing shoppers into a Christmas Eve avalanche.)
My teen years coincided with the “loadsamoney” 80s, when loud boys in wide jackets got rich in shiny towers. That, the world told me, was success.
Instead, I took up journalism. Not loadsamoney, but a puff of status and the frisson of my byline in ink.
Just like the elevator, I was on a ride skywards – but I seldom stopped to explore any floors.
I was busy doing… but I couldn’t just be.
What do you do? asks society, filing us into “success” or “failure”, “rich” or “poor”, “interesting” or “dull.”
When I sold my business in 2018, the first question people asked was: what are you going to do now? And when I had no answer, they were sad and disappointed. There was no file for “don’t know.”
Nor was there a file for “just be”.
Now, when I remember, I bask in radical being. I stop and do nothing, so I can notice the wonder of breath, the sound of a chickadee, and the scent of snow.
So many years doing without seeing. Did I spend four decades with my eyes scrunched shut?