It would be fair to say that I’ve had a reasonably quiet start to the year, something perhaps reflected in my recent web presence or lack thereof. Having spent so much time wanting to be someone who had written a book as opposed to someone who is writing one and trying to achieve that; I hadn’t really thought about the next bit. It hadn’t been necessary. But come just after New Year, and with the initial mass of passion and drive about what I was doing when originally able to take to the streets with my book all but expired, I was then faced with that question again. What am I doing? Or at least what do I want to be doing next that could drive my present now’s?
This was a question to which I didn’t really have an answer, but one I needed to find an answer to. Half of the battle of knowing what to do is knowing what you want to do. I know enough from personal experience that I don’t want to do things such as call centre work or charity street fundraising again, both professions that seem to make up the majority of what’s on offer for people of a certain age at the moment, but what did I actually now want to do? Knowing a few of the things you don’t want to do can be but a small comfort and a poor substitute to such priceless knowledge.
It’s harder to inspire when you’re not being as inspiring and while I wasn’t doing anything uninspiring I felt I needed to sort my next plans to be able to continue mass distribution of ‘The Happiness Manifesto’ sincerely. If you’re not doing something about things you can end up simply complaining about them, and that’s not something I’ve ever wanted to do. As a result of such thought I found I wasn’t so inclined to invite public conversation as frequently, though I did distribute a small number of books in Berlin (where I went for my birthday in the New Year) and perhaps a month later I also took to the streets when I was lucky enough to come into a large amount of cake; though this occasion only seemed to serve to suggest that the British public may actually be more interested in rhetorical questions than free cake.
The next thing I’d wanted to do with ‘The Happiness Manifesto’ was to take it to Manchester, but I no longer felt inspired to do it. I needed to work out what I wanted to do and it needed to be good. To do this I worked out everything that I like doing and tried working out how in any way I could maintain my existence through such activity. What would my dream occupation entail? It took me a while but what I came up with was that I’d like to run a clothes, records and books shop that would also act as a creative lounge, performance space and skills swap shop for young, creative people who want help putting projects together. Further that it’d be called The Crystal Ship and that I’d like to run it with my girlfriend. I always give time to consider multiple possibilities and genuinely spend time trying to think ‘sensibly’ but it never seems to make much sense. No, it may be a tough goal but once one is in mind it is instantly infinitely more achievable than not having one at all, and makes anything that isn’t that more bearable so long as you know you are still working towards it. More than that though it is truly my goal and already since realizing that this is what I want to do I have made sizeable first steps and more towards finding out how this may become achievable.
With renewed energy, enthusiasm and focus Manchester was once again in my sights. The weather was good, I was going to stay with an old, dear and not recently seen friend and was to have my first hitch of the year to get there. I was up in three and there by 4 and, not including 2 a half hours stood on a roundabout next to a dead dog, it was all round a very pleasant journey. After a good evening’s catch up I went the next day to the Arndale where I decided I wanted to hit Manchester short and sweet and get the 40 books I had on me quickly to receptive people. The way I did this was with a sign simply saying ‘Free books for Smiles’. An hour later and 40 smiles up I was ready to enjoy the rest of my visit and catch up in Manchester knowing I had brought smiles to a few more faces, and got a few more copies of ‘The Happiness Manifesto’ out into the world.
I always wanted to visit certain cities and distribute books on the street, and I’ve done that now with over 300 out there. This leaves me a small number which I will from here be carrying around with me as I do already; just one in the back pocket on occasions whereby it feels right to distribute if it seems appropriate. But this isn’t the end, it’s the beginning and as I suggested in the title; the calm before the storm as I have so much latent energy just hungry to be thrown into something again. I want to create and achieve something for myself that will hopefully benefit other young people who want to achieve their dreams and become who they want to be.