Driving through mid-Wales we passed the Halfway Inn.
‘Halfway to where? And from where?’ I wonder.
‘It’s halfway to somewhere. Or nowhere.’ He answers.
I like that answer, it sticks with me. Of course, it helps that we’re travelling from Dylan Thomas’ Boat House in Laugharne and I’m already feeling wordy and ponderous. But it catches on that buried piece of flint I have that seems to be the inner thing that jump-starts my desire to write.
I’ve really missed that teeth-setting-on-edge, sudden breeze feeling when you hear an idea, a word or a phrase that spiders out to touch a miscellany of bits and bobs in your brain that were simply lying about, offering no indication of interconnectedness.
And not only that, but I wondered whether halfway to nowhere was exactly the place I needed to be for my flint to catch on a few more, uh, word rocks?
Moving forward without going anywhere
Planning and always looking for your next milestone is necessary sometimes and can be really rewarding. Having a goal helps you feel a sense of achievement when you get there. But to live every day like that leaves you with the question of why you’re bothering to do it. Where are you ultimately hoping to get? If it’s to be finally able to enjoy just being where you are, why not start now?
That’s no good either though. Just ‘being’, always ‘present’ encourages you to stagnate and wonder when and if anything will ever change. Once you’re able to enjoy where you are, what else is there to look forward to if you’re just carrying on as is? And so you look to ambition and land marks once more.
Lately I’ve been wondering (and hoping) if there is such a thing as somewhere in between.
Getting to know a few herons by their christian names
Like I said, the foundations for halfway to nowhere started to coalesce into a structure while at Dylan Thomas’s boat house. He knew he wanted to be a poet when he was a teenager; not only that, but he just bloody well did it. He got on with it, only had one ‘proper’, or ‘not being a poet’ job in his life and just worked with whatever nurtured his writing.
Seeing the phenomenal surroundings of his writing shed and reading about his witty and obtuse manner made me really miss my writing. I don’t just mean the act of putting words on the page. I write for work, but that’s ultimately written in someone else’s interest. It’s not selfish writing. Which I guess is what I mean, and how I see what Dylan did.
Sure his poems and other works gave and give a huge amount to people who hear and read them, but that seems almost a fortunate side effect. Dylan wasn’t commissioned to do that. It came from his version of his inner flint.
And that’s what set me trundling down the little path that was soon to emerge onto the A-road that would pass that Halfway Inn.
So where is halfway to nowhere?
It’s exactly where you think. It’s a marker along the way to absolutely nowhere. It’s a real road that you can track your progress along, which continues and is finite. And nowhere is where the end of that road is.
Still not clear? It’s pushing forward, having ambition, and knowing things will gradually change, but not aiming for a particular picture or destination. In fact you’re not even heading for somewhere general. You’re heading for nowhere, you’re just heading.
You’re moving forward without presuming to aim for a future that quite simply and logically doesn’t exist yet. It’s not failing to have a goal, it’s very deliberately not presuming to know what that goal is before you get there. You’re not always worrying about getting somewhere without festering by staying where you are.
Maybe halfway to nowhere is a purely selfish bit of writing. But the idea gives me the space you can easily rush past in trying to reach it. The road is a way to keep going; halfway proves your moving; nowhere is the motivation to move.