Monday, August 13, 2012

The doldrums conundrum

Samuel Johnson once famously said that "when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life", and while I am inclined to argue that when a man is tired of London he's just that, I have to admit I'm currently pretty tired of both. Partly because I've been working almost non-stop for the past few weeks, but more because I've been doing the same thing again and again and again for what feels like half a lifetime.

That sounds churlish, doesn't it? Railing against daily routine is petty at  the best of times, and even more so when, as in my case, the routine is one that affords a high degree of variety and fun. Honestly, when I'm doing the usual things - going to work, going out with friends - I'm quite content. But therein lies the problem. I didn't move overseas to be content, I moved overseas to be adventurous. So today I decided to stop complaining about how bored I am (and believe me, I have done my share of moaning), and find something new to do.

To be fair, this sudden surge of energy was not actually so sudden. For the past few weeks my camera and I have been using my (rare) days off to explore the city in the hopes of reigniting the spark I felt for the first year or so of being here. And while I am not what you would call a sports fan ("the Olympics is basically just one big, expensive sports carnival. And the tube will be a nightmare" - Shannon Cuthbert, 2012) the Olympics has done a great job of highlighting the most exciting parts of London.

I was vaguely aware that there were various activities and exhibitions going on around the place for the London 2012 festival, and there was one thing in particular I'd heard of that sounded like the best thing I could ever imagine ever in my entire life. Ever. So I went and found it.

It's a maze made of books.

A maze.

Made of books

250,000 books to be exact. More than half have been borrowed from Oxfam shops, while the remainder were donated by publishing houses. Towards the middle the walls are 2.5 meters high. But that's not even the best part. The best part is it's a working library. Visitors are encouraged to grab a book from the top of the pile and read (I found a copy of Bill Bryson's 'Down Under' and spent a lovely hour chuckling my way through his incredibly accurate portrayal of my country's inhospitable living conditions and paradoxically hospitable inhabitants). All they ask is that you replace the books when you're done.

And just when you thought life couldn't get any more idyllic, lo! A carnival! 

Ok, so I understand that dichotomy is an essential aspect of our emotions. No good without bad, no happy without sad. I've read my Suess, and I know it's impossible for things to be fun and exciting all the time. To expect as much is just asking for failure (and/or some kind of breakdown). But the truth is there are a lot of  fun and exciting things happening. I just have to be a little less jaded and a little more proactive. Because if I'm not going to look for the good, interesting things in London, or anywhere really, then it's my own fault if I miss out on them.