The horizon comes in many forms. In the Happy Ever Afters, in the slow, ecstatic fade, in the overwhelming dream of accomplishment, achievement, or ownership.
I’ve had small time horizons like love objects and other unremarkable goals.
- When I am thinner….
- When I live in this city…
- When I travel here…
- When I am accepted by this group…
What these past goals of mine had in common, was a vague idea of escape, an arrived-at permanent happiness.
When I admit it, here, in words, it feels odd that, as a rational being, I still grasp onto these irrational and ellipsied hopes, and yet, it is so utterly human.
In his book, The Romantic Movement, Alain de Botton discusses this phenomenon in the context of The Vacation.
In her state of anticipation, she had sat in London and looked forward to the island without thinking that she would be included int he equation of the future, focusing simply on the beach, the palm trees, the breeze…
(You can view his ever clever figures here, page 234). He continues,
In his essay Of Solitude, Montaigne recounted that ‘someone said to Socrates that a certain man had grown no better by his travels. ‘I should think not,’ he said; ‘he took himself along with him.’ Or, as Horace asked in the same essay,
Why should we move to find
Countries and climates of another kind?
What exile leaves himself behind?
I used to move around a lot, I think with this same motivation. I would imagine myself in the new environment, but in my fantasies, I was a different person. I was healthier, more care-free, more socially eloquent and courageous. The city made me hipper. The country made me more sincere and outdoorsy–but always, inevitably, after time passed in the new place, there I would be, with all the same neuroses, all the same hang ups and pleasures.
While most of my horizons have shifted according to what promising thing laid directly ahead, I’ve had, since I was a child, one big horizon, one major accomplishment I think I somehow imagined unchangeable: the horizon of becoming a published author.
Until recently, I unconsciously assumed that on the day I could stroll into a bookstore and look down upon my book, I would be not only a better human being, but a perfect human being. In fact, in some ways, I think I imagined the experience would obliterate me into a billion happy sparkles of eternal fluency. I would no longer be Plain-Jane Elisha, with all her awkward insecurities and nail biting.
I would be a WRITER.
But the habit of horizons is to move, and you can never quite reach them. They are always just ahead, no matter how far you travel or how quickly you go. And while I’ve yet to see a book in print, I know enough now that I will very much remain myself when I do.
Months ago (I apologize to you, blog reader, I’ve waited until now to announce) I signed on with successful, prompt, insightful, kind, and all-around grade A literary agent, Jon Sternfeld. At first, my excitement bordered on sheer panic attack. I’m not kidding. I don’t think my body could very well tell the difference, but once all the cardiac pitter patter subsided I realized that there I was, all in one piece, and there was my MS, which continued to need work.
Even when my book reaches book shelves, there will be the joy and anxiety of book reviews, the goal and work of a second book, and then a third. Even if my book was a mad success and things became financially easier for my family and I, we would still, very much, be, well, ourselves.
As I crawl closer and closer to what was my horizon, I see that it’s already moving, and no matter what awaits, I will most likely continue to get nervous at parties and suffer through even the most polite small talk. Wherever you go, there you are, my dad has repeated to me, over and over, until I got it, with one, somewhat unhappy, somewhat relieved ahHA.
Studies show that whether you win the lottery or lose both of your legs, give it a couple of years, and your level of happiness will most likely return to its original state.
These external horizons, they will always move, and I suppose it’s a good thing. I wouldn’t think that a billion happy sparkles of eternal fluency would make for interesting writing, or be a good mother, for that matter.