In my last post, I was thinking about how people perceive their own futures, and how current society seems defined by a confusion over whether following one's dream is possible, or even sensible. I've just started reading One Day by Dave Nicholls, and it's kept me thinking on that theme. The concept of the book is that we encounter two characters, Dexter and Emma, on one day each year, starting from their first proper meeting the night of their graduation from university. As they get older, we see how their lives pan out, and it's fascinating to compare their actual futures to the ones they hoped for initially.
Here's how Dexter starts out: At twenty-three, Dexter Mayhew's vision of his future was no clearer than Emma Morley's. He hoped to be successful, to make his parents proud and to sleep with more than one woman...but how to make these all compatible? He wanted to feature in magazine articles, and hoped one day for a retrospective of his work, without having any clear notion of what that work might be. He wanted to live life to the extreme, but without any mess or complications. He wanted to live life in such a way that if a photograph were taken at random, it would be a cool photograph. Things should look right. Fun; there should be a lot of fun and no more sadness than absolutely necessary.
And Emma: The trick of it, she told herself, is to be courageous and bold and make a difference. Not change the world exactly, just the bit around you. Go out there with your double-first, your passion and your new Smith Corona electric typewriter and work hard at...something. Change lives through art maybe. Write beautifully. Cherish your friends, stay true to your principles, live passionately and fully and well. Experience new things. Love and be loved if at all possible. Eat sensibly. Stuff like that.