Suddenly, I had three things to write in a week. The first one, on middle English poetry; the second, a detailed work plan for my research this year; and third, a life plan where I’m supposed to pontificate over my future. Needless to say, the third one will be a piece of fiction from beginning to end, the second one will be a chore, and the first one will require me to read old English poetry that’s neither Chaucer or Milton.

Being confronted with anything that will reflect my future brings home how rudderless I’ve been the last year when that kind of thinking has only been engaged in while I’m brooding. For the most part, I just live from day-to-day without thinking about it. Then I’m hit with guilt and anxiety, and spend days flailing about thinking I ought to have a plan and a goal. Neither plan nor goal ever appear.

It was so easy when I was fifteen. A goal popped into my head, and I spent the next few years pursuing it. At nineteen, such largesse seems elusive. Whenever I sit down to think about it, the angle is more that I don’t have a clue, and I obsess about not having a clue, and that I should have one. The more I learn about my options, the more difficult and the more unpalatable they seem.

I don’t know what I want from my future. It seemed so easy three years ago, but now it seems like a big dead-end. Writer? I’ll never make a living as one. The Apples and the Amazons and the Silicon Valley people have killed off most artistic fields in their insatiable hunger to consume that which artists create, and they want it for free, and whomever demands pay is a “lackey of outmoded business models”.

Journalist? I’ll have to sell my soul and my ethics to become one. I doubt that I as a low-level cub reporter will be able to withstand the dictates to cut ethical corners to make a scoop. Teacher? Too late for that; and I never wanted to be one in the first place. It was always a means to an end to be able to afford to write.

So, now I dither about all three assignments because I can’t get my head around that third one. And I descend into one of my regular brooding sessions where nothing constructive will happen because it’s not about making plans or exploring options. It’s all about staring into the abyss, and seeing the abyss smirk and stare back into me.

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