Sometimes I have these big pangs of regret. Especially if I'm walking across a bridge, with wind in my hair and music in my ears. I regret not taking up the place I was offered on Birkbeck's Dance Diploma, because my sodding boss said I might not always be able to leave work on time to get there. And I regret not having pursued the myriad creative dreams I once had. And not taking advantage of time and money I had in younger days to go and seek all those adventures in foreign lands that everyone else seemed to be doing.
But sometimes it seems to me perhaps 'doing' isn't so much my calling. I've often lamented being an observer, but actually I think I'm good at it. I never ended up publishing a novel before I was 18, as was my childhood plan, but I'm really good at the reading that inspired that plan. I can appreciate some lines with a kind of tangible thrill of love. I can get so caught up in worlds that everything looks different for a couple of days; even my internal narrative can be swayed by the prose patterns of whatever I'm reading.
And whilst I didn't 'do' much at university, opting for hours spent browsing bookshops and record shops rather than joining clubs or paragliding for charity, I think I really have idling down to an art. I can recall time spent in the simple pleasure of a good cup of tea, a pastry and a notepad with a huge amount of detail and a lot of fondness. I mused and sipped and wandered and wondered away most of my twenties. I spent hours sitting on benches and sofas and stools. I rejoiced in light on leaves and hidden puffs of smoke from chimneys. I loved evening sunlight on stone, I lay in parks for hours with half a baguette, a hunk of cheese and a paper, watching the grass, the beetles, the people.
I really appreciate the art of simple idling. And whilst I recognise too the importance of doing, and am really glad I have got better at doing (I got a job! I went on holidays! I did awesome courses!), I know that doing alone would be a robotic kind of life, and one that would really miss those moments of tea-aided relaxation, and cake-abetted introspection.
If I run a cafe, I'll be doing, doing, doing. But I'll be nurturing a lovely cocoon where others can choose to happily idle, dream, sit back and reflect and appreciate at their will.