“It’s not enough.”
I watched episodes of Torchwood and Dr Who yesterday with Rowan, Seth and Cottia. The first was dark and tense, full of moral ambiguity and engaging; the other didn’t hook us at all – narrative arcs flying across each other at great speed, death and poignant moments made silly. Both Jack (Torchwood) and the Doctor are approaching death, both have lived thousands, if not millions, of years – and Jack says of his long, long life – “It’s not enough.”
It is a deeply human moment; a moment unlike the Doctor’s dying – the Doctor has time in the midst of his painful last half hour of life to change into top hat and tails and, although another character remarks that even at the last he still cares about his companions, we didn’t feel the connection.
With his usual simplicity and genius E.M. Foster remarks, “Only connect.”
That’s what makes the difference – when there is connection no amount of life is ever enough and yet it’s the finitude that makes it so precious, that makes it matter absolutely. It is not enough, but it is everything.
I spent the rest of Saturday stock taking. Which books have sold? Which books are still lingering on shelves and why? In so many instances it’s the authors who are able to connect to readers whose books have sold. Being an editor and writer I couldn’t help but muse on stock taking as a metaphor as I counted books. Which elements of my life are flourishing? Which plans have fizzled away to nothing or become burdens?
As with small press book sales and as with drama plots, what works is whatever makes those human connections. And when I ‘only connect’ with the person, the story on the page, the poem, the drama unfolding in front of me then the experience leaves me wanting more – it’s never enough.